Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
12 Brothers and sisters, God has shown you his mercy. So I am asking you to offer up your bodies to him while you are still alive. Your bodies are a holy sacrifice that is pleasing to God. When you offer your bodies to God, you are worshiping him in the right way. 2 Don’t live the way this world lives. Let your way of thinking be completely changed. Then you will be able to test what God wants for you. And you will agree that what he wants is right. His plan is good and pleasing and perfect.
As a young Christian (quite awhile ago now!) these verses had a big impact on me. I committed them to memory and they have become foundational verses in my life as I’ve attempted to live out what it means to offer myself to God as a “living sacrifice” and not be “conformed to the pattern of this world”.
More recently I have been reading these verses in The Message version of the Bible, and it’s brought a fresh perspective to what had become quite familiar to me.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)
The phrase “don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking” is quite challenging! Living life close to God is not like a calm pool where we can sit back and float. We live in a world that is like a current that flows away from God. If we are not actively seeking to draw closer to Him, we will get pulled in the opposite direction whether we are aware of it or not.
It’s a continual challenge to find fresh ways to look at God’s Word and to challenge my thinking. Lately I’ve found it very helpful to listen to preaching podcasts in the car on the way home from work – in particular Timothy Keller, who is a very inspiring and thought-provoking Bible teacher.
Can I encourage you today to join me in looking for new ways to read/hear God’s Word? …”Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out”
Written by Shelly Witt
25 Brothers and sisters, here is a mystery I want you to understand. It will keep you from being proud. Part of Israel has refused to obey God. That will continue until the full number of Gentiles has entered God’s kingdom. 26 In this way all Israel will be saved. It is written, “The God who saves will come from Mount Zion. He will remove sin from Jacob’s family. 27 Here is my covenant with them. I will take away their sins.” (Isaiah 59:20,21; 27:9; Jeremiah 31:33,34) 28 As far as the good news is concerned, the people of Israel are enemies. This is for your good. But as far as God’s choice is concerned, the people of Israel are loved. This is because of God’s promises to the founders of our nation. 29 God does not take back his gifts. He does not change his mind about those he has chosen. 30 At one time you did not obey God. But now you have received mercy because Israel did not obey. 31 In the same way, Israel has not been obeying God. But now they receive mercy because of God’s mercy to you. 32 God has found everyone guilty of not obeying him. So now he can have mercy on everyone. Praise to God 33 How very rich are God’s wisdom and knowledge! How he judges is more than we can understand! The way he deals with people is more than we can know! 34 “Who can ever know what the Lord is thinking? Or who can ever give him advice?” (Isaiah 40:13) 35 “Has anyone ever given anything to God, so that God has to pay them back?” (Job 41:11) 36 All things come from him. All things are directed by him. All things are for his praise. May God be given the glory forever! Amen.
God’s plan. Often when I think about God’s plan, I immediately think about God’s plan for my life. What does he have planned for my family, for my career, for my ministry…etc.
Here is God’s plan – to have mercy on all, so that some might respond to his grace and become His people. He has not forgotten the Jews and He has shown he cares just as much about the rest of the world as well (Gentiles).
God’s plan is global, spans all history and will not be thwarted. His wisdom in carrying it out is perfect but unsearchable. Does God have a plan for my life? Yes!
But it only makes sense in the context of this big plan.
Lord, you love me, care for me, search for me. But you have made me part of a plan that is far bigger than me.
Written by Andrew Mellor
11 Again, here is what I ask. The Israelites didn’t trip and fall once and for all time, did they? Not at all! Because Israel sinned, the Gentiles can be saved. That will make Israel jealous of them. 12 Israel’s sin brought riches to the world. Their loss brings riches to the Gentiles. So then what greater riches will come when all Israel turns to God! 13 I am talking to you who are not Jews. I am the apostle to the Gentiles. So I take pride in the work I do for God and others. 14 I hope somehow to stir up my own people to want what you have. Perhaps I can save some of them. 15 When they were not accepted, it became possible for the whole world to be brought back to God. So what will happen when they are accepted? It will be like life from the dead. 16 The first handful of dough that is offered is holy. This makes all of the dough holy. If the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 Some of the natural branches have been broken off. You are a wild olive branch. But you have been joined to the tree with the other branches. Now you enjoy the life-giving sap of the olive tree root. 18 So don’t think you are better than the other branches. Remember, you don’t give life to the root. The root gives life to you. 19 You will say, “Some branches were broken off so that I could be joined to the tree.” 20 That’s true. But they were broken off because they didn’t believe. You stand only because you do believe. So don’t be proud, but tremble. 21 God didn’t spare the natural branches. He won’t spare you either. 22 Think about how kind God is! Also think about how firm he is! He was hard on those who stopped following him. But he is kind to you. So you must continue to live in his kindness. If you don’t, you also will be cut off. 23 If the people of Israel do not continue in their unbelief, they will again be joined to the tree. God is able to join them to the tree again. 24 After all, weren’t you cut from a wild olive tree? Weren’t you joined to an olive tree that was taken care of? And wasn’t that the opposite of how things should be done? How much more easily will the natural branches be joined to their own olive tree!
Christianity has its roots in Judaism there is no doubt. Paul reminds us that Christianity originated as a sect of Judaism and that we dare not become presumptuous or arrogant about the origins or practice of our faith, as if the Jews have no part in God’s plan of Salvation. Clearly salvation came through Jesus, a Jew. SO what of now if so many Jews continue to look for a Messiah who we know has already come. We are not to ‘look down our noses at them’, we are not to pity them. We need to recognise that we are grafted into their tree and be thankful as a result.
Religious arrogance has been a continuing problem for many over the years. It has caused war and division all too often. As Christians we are called to reach out with love to all, including all of differing faith contexts. We are to do so without arrogance but with an appeal to Christ. We are to reach out to people with gentleness and respect, love acceptance and forgiveness.
Father, help us to always reach out to others, of any context, including others of differing faiths with gentleness and respect.
Written by Ps. Richard Botta
11 So here is what I ask. Did God turn his back on his people? Not at all! I myself belong to Israel. I am one of Abraham’s children. I am from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God didn’t turn his back on his people. After all, he chose them. Don’t you know what Scripture says about Elijah? He complained to God about Israel. 3 He said, “Lord, they have killed your prophets. They have torn down your altars. I’m the only one left. And they are trying to kill me.” (1 Kings 19:10,14) 4 How did God answer him? God said, “I have kept 7,000 people for myself. They have not bowed down to Baal.” (1 Kings 19:18) 5 Some are also faithful today. They have been chosen by God’s grace. 6 And if they are chosen by grace, then they can’t work for it. If that were true, grace wouldn’t be grace anymore. 7 What should we say then? The people of Israel did not receive what they wanted so badly. Those Israelites who were chosen did receive it. But the rest of the people were made stubborn. 8 It is written, “God made it hard for them to understand. He gave them eyes that could not see. He gave them ears that could not hear. And they are still like that today.” (Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 29:10) 9 David says, “Let their feast be a trap and a snare. Let them trip and fall. Let them get what’s coming to them. 10 Let their eyes grow dark so they can’t see. Let their backs be bent forever.” (Psalm 69:22,23)
As we look at the news, the world events, all the chaos, brokenness and trauma – we may wonder is God in control, has He taken His hands off the world and let it reap what it has been sowing for years. BUT GOD, He is still very much in control and this passage reminds us of that.
God has too much invested in His people and the world to let them go…. There is a remnant (fiercely loyal minority) always left, who is not thinking of self-interest but continues with the pursuit of proclaiming life in Jesus, freedom in Jesus and allowing God to use them to share Jesus to the world.
Jesus gave His life for us, and we are to give our lives for our community. We are the only Bible some people will ever read.
Like this passage below us – As we allow God to ‘make us’ into all He wants us to be – we become those who let God pursue His interest in us.
Romans 11 v 5 – 6 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
The Message: When Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue His interest in them…
Lord help me to become all you want me to be. Help me to be like Jesus to those around me that they could see your love, grace and mercy flowing from me. Please change me and make me more like you. Use me Lord to reach your people and those who don’t know you yet.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
14 How can they call on him unless they believe in him? How can they believe in him unless they hear about him? How can they hear about him unless someone preaches to them? 15 And how can anyone preach without being sent? It is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Isaiah 52:7) 16 But not all the people of Israel accepted the good news. Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” (Isaiah 53:1) 17 So faith comes from hearing the message. And the message that is heard is the message about Christ. 18 But I ask, “Didn’t the people of Israel hear?” Of course they did. It is written, “Their voice has gone out into the whole earth. Their words have gone out from one end of the world to the other.” (Psalm 19:4) 19 Again I ask, “Didn’t Israel understand?” First, Moses says, “I will use people who are not a nation to make you jealous. I will use a nation that has no understanding to make you angry.” (Deuteronomy 32:21) 20 Then Isaiah boldly speaks about what God says. God said, “I was found by those who were not trying to find me. I made myself known to those who were not asking for me.” (Isaiah 65:1) 21 But Isaiah also speaks about what God says concerning Israel. God said, “All day long I have held out my hands. I have held them out to a stubborn people who do not obey me.” (Isaiah 65:2)
In this passage Paul references Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Do I see myself as being beautiful in bringing the good news of Christ? Or do I feel that I am stepping on people’s toes, unwelcome, unwanted, making public something that should be kept private? Yet if I look at Isaiah 52:7 the picture is of Israel oppressed by a foreign power, and the good news is that God is coming to comfort and save His people. The messenger that brings this news would be seen as beautiful, for the message is of freedom and hope.
Lord, please help me to see myself as beautiful in bringing the good news of Jesus to those around me. Help me to recognise and be confident that I am bringing a message of freedom from oppression and hope. Paul preached your good news with boldness and courage, yet not all who heard the message came to faith in Jesus. Help me not to lose heart when people reject your good news, help me to stay strong, knowing that some will accept the freedom and hope you offer and it will transform their lives. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh
5 Moses writes about how the law could help a person do what God requires. He writes, “The person who does these things will live by them.” (Leviticus 18:5) 6 But the way to do what God requires must begin by having faith in him. Scripture says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will go up into heaven?’ ” (Deuteronomy 30:12) That means to go up into heaven and bring Christ down. 7 “And do not say, ‘Who will go down into the grave?’ ” (Deuteronomy 30:13) That means to bring Christ up from the dead. 8 But what does it say? “The message is near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart.” (Deuteronomy 30:14) This means the message about faith that we are preaching. 9 Say with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord.” Believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead. Then you will be saved. 10 With your heart you believe and are made right with God. With your mouth you say what you believe. And so you are saved. 11 Scripture says, “The one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (Isaiah 28:16) 12 There is no difference between those who are Jews and those who are not. The same Lord is Lord of all. He richly blesses everyone who calls on him. 13 Scripture says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Joel 2:32)
It’s no good if I say all the right things, but God’s word isn’t in my heart. Neither is it any good if I believe in him passionately in my heart but never express that in word and action. Neither superficial nor secret: It has to be both fundamental to my innermost core and outwardly expressed in my life.
Belief in my heart is essential to coming into a right relationship with God. Speaking out that truth is essential to being saved for eternal life.
Similarly James 2:26 says that I’m kidding myself if I think I have faith in my heart but it’s not expressed in how I act. Galatians 5:22-3 says that the Holy Spirit in my heart is inevitably expressed as his character in my life.
I’m challenged by the importance of speaking out the truth about Jesus. I’m also encouraged that God’s promises are for everyone. What I say needs to be sensitive, but it will never be useless.
Written by David Cornell
30 What should we say then? Gentiles did not look for a way to be right with God. But they found it by having faith. 31 The people of Israel tried to obey the law to make themselves right with God. But they didn’t reach their goal of being right with God. 32 Why not? Because they tried to do it without faith. They tried to be right with God by what they did. They tripped over the stone that causes people to trip and fall. 33 It is written, “Look! In Zion I am laying a stone that causes people to trip. It is a rock that makes them fall. The one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16) 10 Brothers and sisters, with all my heart I long for the people of Israel to be saved. I pray to God for them. 2 I can tell you for certain that they really want to serve God. But how they are trying to do it is not based on knowledge. 3 They didn’t know that God’s power makes people right with himself. They tried to get right with God in their own way. They didn’t do it in God’s way. 4 Christ has fulfilled everything the law was meant to do. So now everyone who believes can be right with God.
Have you ever been supremely confident that you knew the answer to a question only to find you had completely misunderstood and were wrong. The Jews were missing the mark because they failed to recognise Jesus as the messiah, where the Gentiles were instead gaining salvation by faith. They were confident but wrong.
It begs the question: are there areas in my life where I smugly think I’ve got it all sorted but I have not understand that God requires of me? The obvious answer is most likely yes! However I don’t believe God tries to correct everything at once in our lives. It is my experience that God works on our misconceptions one at a time. It is up to us to be open to God working in us and to not be stubborn or short-sighted like the Jews. The moment I limit my faith to just what I think I know, is the moment when I start to miss out on all that God has planned for me. I want my life in Christ to be full of all that He has planned for me. I need to be brave, and trust God and be open to the Holy Spirit.
Lord forgive me for the times when I limit your work in my heart. Help me Lord to hear your voice. Holy Spirit work in my life. Show me, Lord, areas where I restrict you and help my faith to grow and be stretched. Lord help me to be open to your call on my life and help me to bring glory to your name in all things. In Jesus name I pray. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
19 One of you will say to me, “Then why does God still blame us? Who can oppose what he wants to do?” 20 But you are a mere human being. So who are you to talk back to God? Scripture says, “Can what is made say to the one who made it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” (Isaiah 29:16; 45:9) 21 Isn’t the potter free to make different kinds of pots out of the same lump of clay? Some are for special purposes. Others are for ordinary use. 22 What if God chose to show his great anger? What if he chose to make his power known? But he put up with the people he was angry with. They were made to be destroyed. 23 What if he put up with them to show the riches of his glory to other people? Those other people are the ones he shows his mercy to. He made them to receive his glory. 24 We are those people. He has chosen us. We do not come only from the Jewish race. Many of us are not Jews. 25 God says in Hosea, “I will call those who are not my people ‘my people.’ I will call the one who is not my loved one ‘my loved one.’ ” (Hosea 2:23) 26 He also says, “Once it was said to them, ‘You are not my people.’ In that very place they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ” (Hosea 1:10) 27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel. He says, “The number of people from Israel may be like the sand by the sea. But only a few of them will be saved. 28 The Lord will carry out his sentence. He will be quick to carry it out on earth, once and for all.” (Isaiah 10:22,23) 29 Earlier Isaiah had said, “The Lord who rules over all left us children and grandchildren. If he hadn’t, we would have become like Sodom. We would have been like Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9)
I love Daily Digest. I love reading it and I love writing for it but some passages are harder to understand than others and this is one those passages. I have a real problem with Romans 9:19-23 because it can lead to ‘determinism’. In this instance determinism means God predetermines all outcomes and so what you do will not affect another person’s salvation.
So what do I know?
This ‘good news’ is truly worth sharing with others.
Thank you, God, that you first loved us and that we will take some time today to reflect on these thoughts. Amen!
Written by David Newton
9 I speak the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My mind tells me that what I say is true. It is guided by the Holy Spirit. 2 My heart is full of sorrow. My sadness never ends. 3 I am so concerned about my people, who are members of my own race. I am ready to be cursed, if that would help them. I am even willing to be separated from Christ. 4 They are the people of Israel. They have been adopted as God’s children. God’s glory belongs to them. So do the covenants. They received the law. They were taught to worship in the temple. They were given the promises. 5 The founders of our nation belong to them. The Messiah comes from their family line. He is God over all. May he always be praised! Amen. God’s Free Choice 6 I do not mean that God’s word has failed. Not everyone in the family line of Israel really belongs to Israel. 7 Not everyone in Abraham’s family line is really his child. Not at all! Scripture says, “Your family line will continue through Isaac.” (Genesis 21:12) 8 In other words, God’s children are not just in the family line of Abraham. Instead, they are the children God promised to him. They are the ones considered to be Abraham’s children. 9 God promised, “I will return at the appointed time. Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:10,14) 10 And that’s not all. Rebekah’s children were born at the same time by the same father. He was our father Isaac. 11 Here is what happened. Rebekah’s twins had not even been born. They hadn’t done anything good or bad yet. So they show that God’s purpose is based firmly on his free choice. 12 It was not because of anything they did but because of God’s choice. So Rebekah was told, “The older son will serve the younger one.” (Genesis 25:23) 13 It is written, “I chose Jacob instead of Esau.” (Malachi 1:2,3) 14 What should we say then? Is God unfair? Not at all! 15 He said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy. I will show love to those I love.” (Exodus 33:19) 16 So it doesn’t depend on what people want or what they do. It depends on God’s mercy. 17 In Scripture, God says to Pharaoh, “I had a special reason for making you king. I decided to use you to show my power. I wanted my name to become known everywhere on earth.” (Exodus 9:16) 18 So God does what he wants to do. He shows mercy to one person and makes another stubborn.
Paul is heartbroken over his people Israel. He desperately wants them to wake up and see that they are separated from God and they have rejected the messiah, Jesus Christ.
We read of the depth of his love and despair when Paul says that he would rather be cursed if only he could spare his people Israel.
This is a very noble and heart-felt claim, and not one that I could honestly say that I would make. It shows how deeply burdened Paul was for his people.
I think the closest that I have ever come to feeling like that is on behalf of my children – wishing I could take their pain in order to spare them.
Fortunately for us, this kind of self-sacrifice on behalf of another is not possible nor is it necessary. There is One who has already been cursed by God in order that our friends and family might be saved.
How grateful I am today that Jesus Christ has given His life for us. It’s not up to me to save my friends and family – He has done it all, and I only need to point the way to Jesus.
Written by Shelley Witt
31 What should we say then? Since God is on our side, who can be against us? 32 God did not spare his own Son. He gave him up for us all. Then won’t he also freely give us everything else? 33 Who can bring any charge against God’s chosen ones? God makes us right with himself. 34 Then who can sentence us to death? No one. Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God and is also praying for us. He died. More than that, he was raised to life. 35 Who can separate us from Christ’s love? Can trouble or hard times or harm or hunger? Can nakedness or danger or war? 36 It is written, “Because of you, we face death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be killed.” (Psalm 44:22) 37 No! In all these things we are more than winners! We owe it all to Christ, who has loved us. 38 I am absolutely sure that not even death or life can separate us from God’s love. Not even angels or demons, the present or the future, or any powers can separate us. 39 Not even the highest places or the lowest, or anything else in all creation can separate us. Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love. That’s because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.
This passage is a familiar and amazing statement of our faith. We have been rescued at a great cost – Christ death for us – so there is no way God will abandon us now. His love continues and nothing that happens will stop him loving us.
This means he is not responsible for bad events or situations we encounter in life but he loves us even though we are struggling. An easy life is not guaranteed for Christians, as if our faith was like magic warding off hard times. The guarantee is that God will still love us, just like when he rescued us by having Jesus die on the cross. That demonstration of his love shows us how much he loves us – v 32. So we rest secure in his love even when troubles come. Peterson in The Message version puts it this way – “None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us” v37. Not fazed? Wow that brings it home! You could say not panicked, not trying to second guess God, not blaming him or getting angry, not knocked off course from following Him by things which happen. Don’t be robbed of the blessing of God’s love in Jesus even when it all seems to be going pear shaped. He didn’t rescue us for that.
“As your love in wave after wave, crashes over me, crashes over me, You are for us, you are not against us…you make me Brave”
Dear Jesus, I love you. I thank you for dying for me. You showed me the heavenly Father’s love, which never stops, like the waves at the beach. You will be with me no matter what happens. I cant thank you enough. Amen
Written by Claire Moore
26 In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don’t know what we should pray for. But the Spirit himself prays for us. He prays through groans too deep for words. 27 God, who looks into our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit. And the Spirit prays for God’s people just as God wants him to pray. 28 We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. He appointed them to be saved in keeping with his purpose. 29 God planned that those he had chosen would become like his Son. In that way, Christ will be the first and most honored among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those God has planned for, he has also appointed to be saved. Those he has appointed, he has made right with himself. To those he has made right with himself, he has given his glory.
This passage of scripture makes me want to breathe a sigh of relief. God’s Spirit helps us in our weakness when we don’t know how to pray. This applies to me so often!
I find it very comforting to know that I don’t need to have all the right words to pray. Have you ever felt like you are not a very ‘good prayer’? I certainly have! But this reminds me that I can just come to God and He will help me in my weakness. As it says here, even wordless groaning can be interpreted by Him!
Then God promises that He will meet me in my weakness and He will work things out for the best when I trust Him. Very comforting and very simple. Lord, help me to take you at your word and rest in this!
Written by Shelley Witt
18 What we are suffering now is nothing compared with our future glory. 19 Everything God created looks forward to the future. That will be the time when his children appear in their full and final glory. 20 The created world was held back from fulfilling its purpose. But this was not the result of its own choice. It was planned that way by the one who held it back. God planned 21 to set the created world free. He didn’t want it to rot away. Instead, God wanted it to have the same freedom and glory that his children have. 22 We know that all that God created has been groaning. It is in pain as if it were giving birth to a child. The created world continues to groan even now. 23 And that’s not all. We have the Holy Spirit as the promise of future blessing. But we also groan inside ourselves. We do this as we look forward to the time when God adopts us as full members of his family. Then he will give us everything he has for us. He will raise our bodies and give glory to them. 24 That’s the hope we had when we were saved. But hope that can be seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 We hope for what we don’t have yet. So we are patient as we wait for it.
How much do we think of heaven? When we are young, we don’t think of it at all – life is all ahead of us. As we get older we do. More of life goes by, more heart-ache, more physical difficulty, more trouble, difficult and hard times all take their toll. We hope for something, somewhere better. We all do, we all hope for something better.
Paul says in verse 25 “we hope for what we don’t have yet …” as Christians heaven is our hope – we’re not there yet, its our long-range hope of what is to come – being in God’s presence always.
Father thank you that you have given us glimpses of our future hope. We have your Holy Spirit now as a guarantee, this will happen, it will be amazing. Thank you.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
9 But you are not ruled by the power of sin. Instead, the Holy Spirit rules over you. This is true if the Spirit of God lives in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Christ. 10 If Christ lives in you, you will live. Though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life. The Spirit does this because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of the God who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you. So the God who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your bodies. He will do this because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Brothers and sisters, we have a duty. Our duty is not to live under the power of sin. 13 If you live under the power of sin, you will die. But by the Spirit’s power you can put to death the sins you commit. Then you will live. 14 Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 The Spirit you received doesn’t make you slaves. Otherwise you would live in fear again. Instead, the Holy Spirit you received made you God’s adopted child. By the Spirit’s power we call God Abba. Abba means Father. 16 The Spirit himself joins with our spirits. Together they tell us that we are God’s children. 17 As his children, we will receive all that he has for us. We will share what Christ receives. But we must share in his sufferings if we want to share in his glory.
This is one of those passages that is important to let settle into our minds and hearts, for the truth of it can combat the lies of the enemy that can so often plague our thoughts. The Spirit of Christ does not only make us righteous before God, but the wonderful truth is that the Spirit of Christ, makes us co-heirs with Christ . . . children of the most high God. Just let that thought settle on your heart.
We are not servants, or onlookers, or club members, but are actually a child of the Father when we accept Jesus as our Saviour.
We do not earn this privilege. We do not gain it by works. We do not have to consistently work hard each day to maintain our status. God’s love for us does not waiver. Nothing we can do will make him love us more, and nothing we do will make him love us less. We are sealed by His Spirit.
Father, I thank you that you took the initiative by grace to save me, and that I am now your child and co-heir with Christ.
Written by Steve Fell
8 Those who belong to Christ Jesus are no longer under God’s judgment. 2 Because of what Christ Jesus has done, you are free. You are now controlled by the law of the Holy Spirit who gives you life. The law of the Spirit frees you from the law of sin that brings death. 3 The written law was made weak by the power of sin. But God did what the written law could not do. He made his Son to be like those who live under the power of sin. God sent him to be an offering for sin. Jesus suffered God’s judgment against our sin. 4 Jesus does for us everything the holy law requires. The power of sin should no longer control the way we live. The Holy Spirit should control the way we live. 5 So don’t live under the control of sin. If you do, you will think about what sin wants. Live under the control of the Holy Spirit. If you do, you will think about what the Spirit wants. 6 The thoughts of a person ruled by sin bring death. But the mind ruled by the Spirit brings life and peace. 7 The mind ruled by the power of sin is at war with God. It does not obey God’s law. It can’t. 8 Those who are under the power of sin can’t please God.
Rom 8.1 is one of those iconic verses for Christians. I have heard this verse so many times that I couldn’t count them all. But its more than iconic, its powerful and real – tangible even.
Because it is so well known, it’s easy for me to simply read over it and not pause and meditate on it.
So, as I meditate on this verse, God reminds me that there is NOW no condemnation.
There are three areas that I can feel condemned about.
The first are the things in my past, my regrets. I can’t change them, but God’s forgiveness and grace wipe away the regret I can feel.
Secondly, my worries. And I’m good at worrying about how I think things will play out. I’m usually wrong but I can get so worked up about what could happen, it’s easy to be fearful.
And thirdly, my stress for today, my present struggles where I can focus on my weaknesses and failures.
But I hear again Paul’s powerful declaration, I hear my heavenly father say to me, that there is NOW NO condemnation from God my father. Why? because he loves me.
Perfect love casts out all fear!
Written by Andrew Martin
14 We know that the law is holy. But I am not. I have been sold to be a slave of sin. 15 I don’t understand what I do. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate to do. 16 I do what I don’t want to do. So I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, I am no longer the one who does these things. It is sin living in me that does them. 18 I know there is nothing good in my desires controlled by sin. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. 19 I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do. 20 I do what I don’t want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me that does it. 21 Here is the law I find working in me. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 Deep inside me I find joy in God’s law. 23 But I see another law working in me. It fights against the law of my mind. It makes me a prisoner of the law of sin. That law controls me. 24 What a terrible failure I am! Who will save me from this sin that brings death to my body? 25 I give thanks to God who saves me. He saves me through Jesus Christ our Lord. So in my mind I am a slave to God’s law. But sin controls my desires. So I am a slave to the law of sin.
I’ve heard it said one of the best and most honest prayers we can pray is “Oh God have mercy on me a sinner.” I don’t know about you but I long for the day that my sin won’t be an issue any more; when this wretched man is gone and replaced by the clean version of me who’s ready for heaven.
In the mean time I find a strange comfort; the dread and sorrow at my own short-comings is, in one sense, a gift. They show me that I am different and changing – I don’t want to do the things I used to do. I didn’t manufacture this longing for rightness. God did that! The only way that could ever happen is if He is in my life. What a great encouragement!
And in the end I run even harder to Jesus. He, and He alone is my righteousness! It is His righteousness that makes me fit for heaven, not my own. The answer really is Jesus!
Thank you Jesus for paying the penalty of my sin on the cross and offering me back your righteousness. With a grateful heart I humbly accept. Amen
Written by Boudy van Noppen
7 What should we say then? That the law is sinful? Not at all! Yet I wouldn’t have known what sin was unless the law had told me. The law says, “Do not want what belongs to other people.” (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21) If the law hadn’t said that, I would not have known what it was like to want what belongs to others. 8 But the commandment gave sin an opportunity. Sin caused me to want all kinds of things that belong to others. A person can’t sin by breaking a law if that law doesn’t exist. 9 Before I knew about the law, I was alive. But then the commandment came. Sin came to life, and I died. 10 I found that the commandment that was supposed to bring life actually brought death. 11 When the commandment gave sin the opportunity, sin tricked me. It used the commandment to put me to death. 12 So the law is holy. The commandment also is holy and right and good. 13 Did what is good cause me to die? Not at all! Sin had to be recognized for what it really is. So it used what is good to bring about my death. Because of the commandment, sin became totally sinful.
In the permissive world we live in it seems that anything can be justified – it’s not trendy to ‘judge’ the actions of others. But it is my own actions I need to be concerned with. Without the ‘Gold Standard’ laid out by the law then I am free to do whatever I want without guilt. However I am called by God to live another way. It’s always a choice to do the right thing, it’s not our default setting. In fact the wrong thing can often seem so much more appealing!
The law is like an electric fence – it’s there to keep us safe from what lies beyond it, and if you push against it you are going to feel pain. I have to be responsible for my actions, try to make good choices and own up to my mistakes when I make them. The law is there to show me how much I need Jesus. Real freedom comes when we understand how much Jesus has done for us, sparing us from the condemnation that comes from failing to live up to the law.
Lord Jesus thank you so much for the freedom we find in you. Thank you that you set me free from condemnation. Lord help me to love you with all of my being and help me to love others just like you love me. Forgive me Father for the times when I get things wrong. Thank you Lord that your grace is more than enough. Amen
Written by Christine Knight
7 Brothers and sisters, I am speaking to you who know the law. Don’t you know that the law has authority over someone only as long as they live? 2 For example, by law a married woman remains married as long as her husband lives. But suppose her husband dies. Then the law that joins her to him no longer applies. 3 But suppose that married woman sleeps with another man while her husband is still alive. Then she is called a woman who commits adultery. But suppose her husband dies. Then she is free from that law. She is not guilty of adultery if she marries another man. 4 My brothers and sisters, when Christ died you also died as far as the law is concerned. Then it became possible for you to belong to him. He was raised from the dead. Now our lives can be useful to God. 5 The power of sin used to control us. The law stirred up sinful desires in us. So the things we did resulted in death. 6 But now we have died to what used to control us. We have been set free from the law. Now we serve in the new way of the Holy Spirit. We no longer serve in the old way of the written law.
Paul is using the example of marriage as a way of comparison. We all understand that at the death of a spouse the remaining spouse is no longer joined to that person. And so Paul uses this comparison to help us understand that at Jesus’s death, sin, that has kept us all bound to itself (like a marriage) is now finished and we, the remaining ‘spouse’ are free from it (sin). The Message puts it “ But now that we’re no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we’re free to live a new life in the freedom of God.”
It’s actually quite a simple truth, but oh how we forget. As believers we forget that sin no longer has power over us, we forget that sin is actually dead. It no longer calls the shots and tells us we are to live a certain way or have no hope of breaking certain patterns or that this is how we are wired and that’s it. Sin is such a liar. Sin is dead. The simple truth is that we are free!!
Oh hallelujah!! Thank you Jesus that you have taken my sin ‘partner’ and put it to death. Thank you that I am free to live a completely different life – re-created life, though your grace and love. Amen.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
15 What should we say then? Should we sin because we are not ruled by the law but by God’s grace? Not at all! 16 Don’t you know that when you give yourselves to obey someone you become that person’s slave? If you are slaves of sin, then you will die. But if you are slaves who obey God, then you will live a godly life. 17 You used to be slaves of sin. But thank God that with your whole heart you obeyed the teachings you were given! 18 You have been set free from sin. You have become slaves to right living. 19 Because you are human, you find this hard to understand. So I am using an everyday example to help you understand. You used to give yourselves to be slaves to unclean living. You were becoming more and more evil. Now give yourselves to be slaves to right living. Then you will become holy. 20 Once you were slaves of sin. At that time right living did not control you. 21 What benefit did you gain from doing the things you are now ashamed of? Those things lead to death! 22 You have been set free from sin. God has made you his slaves. The benefit you gain leads to holy living. And the end result is eternal life. 23 When you sin, the pay you get is death. But God gives you the gift of eternal life. That’s because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.
I am struck by the interplay between “offering ourselves” and the concept of being a slave. It seems to me that the writer of Romans is talking about voluntary slavery here, or willing slavery.
I’ve always conceived of slavery as something forced on a person – by circumstances, by foreign powers, etc. But here, the writer describes a slavery that is as a result of our choice.
The power of this for me is simple – when I think of slavery, especially slavery to sin, as something I’ve got no control over or no say in, I can excuse myself of responsibility. But this passage doesn’t allow me to do so.
Sin is something I “offer myself to.” I’m responsible. I can’t just blame the devil, certain relationships, the world. There might be pressures exerted on me from any or all of these. But I have a choice of response. I have a will in the end.
My responsible choice must be, in the words of Romans here, to “offer myself” as a slave of righteousness leading to holiness, and eternal life. Why, as a slave? Well, if I’ve used my will in the past to choose sin, and that’s a choice for death, it’s probably a good idea to focus my will, and constrain my will. Not because God isn’t into freedom, but because I can tend towards willfull self-destruction. Hence, constraining my options, with His help, towards what is righteous. That means, I constrain myself to a life focused on living right with God, and with people.
Lord, help me to focus my will on living righteous before you and with my fellow man. Please give me grace to rise in strong and clear personal responsibility here. Amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
6 What should we say then? Should we keep on sinning so that God’s grace can increase? 2 Not at all! As far as sin is concerned, we are dead. So how can we keep on sinning? 3 All of us were baptized into Christ Jesus. Don’t you know that we were baptized into his death? 4 By being baptized, we were buried with Christ into his death. Christ has been raised from the dead by the Father’s glory. And like Christ we also can live a new life. 5 By being baptized, we have been joined with him in a death like his. So we will certainly also be joined with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that what we used to be was nailed to the cross with him. That happened so our bodies that were ruled by sin would lose their power. So we are no longer slaves of sin. 7 That’s because those who have died have been set free from sin. 8 We died with Christ. So we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ was raised from the dead and will never die again. Death doesn’t control him anymore. 10 When he died, he died once and for all time. He did this to break the power of sin. Now that he lives, he lives in the power of God. 11 In the same way, consider yourselves to be dead as far as sin is concerned. Now you believe in Christ Jesus. So consider yourselves to be alive as far as God is concerned. 12 So don’t let sin rule your body, which is going to die. Don’t obey its evil desires. 13 Don’t give any part of yourself to serve sin. Don’t let any part of yourself be used to do evil. Instead, give yourselves to God. You have been brought from death to life. So give every part of yourself to God to do what is right. 14 Sin will no longer control you like a master. That’s because the law does not rule you. God’s grace has set you free.
Paul here stops to address the concern that greater grace might lead to greater sin in the lives of the Roman believers. Paul points out that if we truly profess faith in Jesus, continuing in sin won’t be an option for us because we will realise that we are dead to sin and cannot continue in it any longer (v2). Paul teaches us that we can make a clean break with sin because it longer has mastery over us (v6). Amazing. Nonetheless, the idea of being ‘dead to sin’ is something I struggle to comprehend. Death is such an all encompassing concept, and the fact that I still face temptation each day and feel the allure of sin makes it hard to believe that I am ‘dead’ to it.
However, while we still experience the presence of sin here on earth, God promises us freedom from the power of sin here and now (v6). Living free from the power of sin is something we need to take hold of actively in the way that we think and live. This involves considering ourselves dead to sin (v11) and offering our bodies for God’s glory (v13).
Stop for a moment. How do you think about your sin? Is it something you try to manage or do you truly consider yourself dead to it?
God has broken the power of sin in Jesus. Let’s together consider ourselves dead to it and offer our bodies for God’s glory as ‘instruments of righteousness’.
Thank you God because of Jesus we are dead to sin but alive in you. Give us new hearts aligned with your desires and power by your Holy Spirit to live new lives for your glory. Amen.
Written by Sam Liu
12 Sin entered the world because one man sinned. And death came because of sin. Everyone sinned, so death came to all people. 13 Before the law was given, sin was in the world. This is certainly true. But people are not judged for sin when there is no law. 14 Death ruled from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. Death ruled even over those who did not sin as Adam did. He broke God’s command. But Adam also became a pattern of the Messiah. The Messiah was the one who was going to come. 15 God’s gift can’t be compared with Adam’s sin. Many people died because of the sin of that one man. But it was even more sure that God’s grace would also come through one man. That man is Jesus Christ. God’s gift of grace was more than enough for the whole world. 16 The result of God’s gift is different from the result of Adam’s sin. That one sin brought God’s judgment. But after many sins, God’s gift made people right with him. 17 One man sinned, and death ruled over all people because of his sin. What will happen is even more sure than this. Those who receive the rich supply of God’s grace will rule with Christ. They will rule in his kingdom. They have received God’s gift and have been made right with him. This will happen because of what the one man, Jesus Christ, has done. 18 So one man’s sin brought guilt to all people. In the same way, one right act made people right with God. That one right act gave life to all people. 19 Many people were made sinners because one man did not obey. But one man did obey. That is why many people will be made right with God. 20 The law was given so that sin would increase. But where sin increased, God’s grace increased even more. 21 Sin ruled and brought death. But grace rules in the lives of those who are right with God. The grace of God brings eternal life. That’s because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done.
A lot of people still think God is all about sin and finding us guilty of it. However, this is Paul’s wonderful description of what difference Jesus made to this picture. As it says in this passage: So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (NLT) When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end. (MESSAGE)
Life with God is about grace not sin – the free and unmerited favour of God. We can have relationship with Him even though we have spent time not living how He asks. He has made a way for us to be forgiven through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross – a huge step to organise for us because He cares. He wants us to be friends with Him. How awesome. Life is designed to be based on abundant grace. What a wonderful idea to focus on – that God loves us that much.
Thank you Lord for GRACE, that You organised a way for us to come back into relationship with You and to live life well. Help us to remember Your grace and love every day.
Written by Therese Manning
5 We have been made right with God because of our faith. Now we have peace with him because of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through faith in Jesus we have received God’s grace. In that grace we stand. We are full of joy because we expect to share in God’s glory. 3 And that’s not all. We are full of joy even when we suffer. We know that our suffering gives us the strength to go on. 4 The strength to go on produces character. Character produces hope. 5 And hope will never bring us shame. That’s because God’s love has been poured into our hearts. This happened through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 At just the right time Christ died for ungodly people. He died for us when we had no power of our own. 7 It is unusual for anyone to die for a godly person. Maybe someone would be willing to die for a good person. 8 But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 The blood of Christ has made us right with God. So we are even more sure that Jesus will save us from God’s anger. 10 Once we were God’s enemies. But we have been brought back to him because his Son has died for us. Now that God has brought us back, we are even more secure. We know that we will be saved because Christ lives. 11 And that is not all. We are full of joy in God because of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of him, God has brought us back to himself.
I have great reason for hope! All of God’s people have great reason for hope. My hope is a living reality, not an idea. My hope is that I have already received the Holy Spirit, poured into my heart. This is God’s expression of love towards me. This is a comfort and joy in my present reality, no matter what else might be going on. But it is also a sign.
It is a sign of what is past – Christ died for me, the ungodly. He has reconciled me with God. Made me a friend of God.
It is a sign of the future – just as Christ was raised from the dead, so I will be raised from the dead.
No wonder I have hope. I am enveloped by a past and a future that hold me through all eternity. While being held by God I am filled by his very Spirit!
Father of my past, present and future, thank you for declaring your love and life over me, not just with words but with actions the ring out for all eternity. I have a real and living hope in me. Amen
Written by Andrew Mellor
13 Abraham and his family received a promise. God promised that Abraham would receive the world. It would not come to him because he obeyed the law. It would come because of his faith, which made him right with God. 14 Do those who depend on the law receive the promise? If they do, faith would mean nothing. God’s promise would be worthless. 15 The law brings God’s anger. Where there is no law, the law can’t be broken. 16 The promise is based on God’s grace. The promise comes by faith. All of Abraham’s children will certainly receive the promise. And it is not only for those who are ruled by the law. Those who have the same faith that Abraham had are also included. He is the father of us all. 17 It is written, “I have made you a father of many nations.” (Genesis 17:5) God considers Abraham to be our father. The God that Abraham believed in gives life to the dead. Abraham’s God also creates things that did not exist before. 18 When there was no reason for hope, Abraham believed because he had hope. He became the father of many nations, exactly as God had promised. God said, “That is how many children you will have.” (Genesis 15:5) 19 Abraham did not become weak in his faith. He accepted the fact that he was past the time when he could have children. At that time Abraham was about 100 years old. He also realized that Sarah was too old to have children. 20 But Abraham kept believing in God’s promise. He became strong in his faith. He gave glory to God. 21 He was absolutely sure that God had the power to do what he had promised. 22 That’s why “God accepted Abraham because he believed. So his faith made him right with God.” (Genesis 15:6) 23 The words “God accepted Abraham’s faith” were written not only for Abraham. 24 They were written also for us. We believe in the God who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. So God will accept our faith and make us right with himself. 25 Jesus was handed over to die for our sins. He was raised to life in order to make us right with God.
I love the emphasis on who Abraham placed his faith in. Verse 17 makes it clear that “The God that Abraham believed in gives life to the dead. Abraham’s God also creates things that did not exist before.”. This is not just any god, but the God who wants faith to come through knowing Him and who He is – all powerful, all knowing, and full of grace. Abraham’s God did not desire faith to come through Abraham’s perfection, but by knowing and hearing Him, and then trusting in what He said. How awesome it is that this is the same God we serve! It doesn’t negate us from obedience to what God calls us to or asks from us – far from it. However our righteousness is based on our faith in Him, as was Abraham’s. Even when “there was no reason for hope, Abraham believed because he had hope.” (vs. 18). Abraham chose not to put his faith in his circumstances and let his hope wither, instead he chose to put his faith in God, even when it seemed that what God had said would be impossible.
Reading this, I am so convicted of the way I sometimes choose to put my faith in what’s happening around me – my own ideas, circumstances and resources – or lack thereof. I am so encouraged by and grateful for Abraham’s example, that I would choose to see and know the almighty God who I place my faith in over anything else.
God, thank you so much that you are capable of more than I can imagine, and that your word is true and faithful. Help me to know you more, that I would hear you and trust you every day. Thank you that you are the same God today as you have always been, and that we can confidently place our hope in you. Amen.
Written by Madelaine Tarasenko
21 But now God has shown us his saving power without the help of the law. But the Law and the Prophets tell us about this. 22 We are made right with God by putting our faith in Jesus Christ. This happens to all who believe. It is no different for the Jews than for the Gentiles. 23 Everyone has sinned. No one measures up to God’s glory. 24 The free gift of God’s grace makes us right with him. Christ Jesus paid the price to set us free. 25 God gave Christ as a sacrifice to pay for sins through the spilling of his blood. So God forgives the sins of those who have faith. God did all this to prove that he does what is right. He is a God of mercy. So he did not punish for their sins the people who lived before Jesus lived. 26 God did all this to prove in our own time that he does what is right. He also makes right with himself those who believe in Jesus. 27 So who can brag? No one! Are people saved by the law that requires them to obey? Not at all! They are saved because of the law that requires faith. 28 We firmly believe that a person is made right with God because of their faith. They are not saved by obeying the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of Gentiles? Yes, he is their God too. 30 There is only one God. When those who are circumcised believe in him, he makes them right with himself. Suppose those who are not circumcised believe in him. Then God also will make them right with himself. 31 Does faith make the law useless? Not at all! We agree with the law.
Who is able to attain righteousness? Who can be in right relationship with God? No one can, without faith in Jesus. We are all sinners. No matter how many good deeds or religious traditions we have done. No matter whether we are apart of a certain race or culture.
With faith in Jesus who can have a right relationship with God? Everyone. Everyone who believes that Jesus is Lord. Lord meaning that Jesus (the Messiah who fulfils the prophecies) the son of God, who came and died and took upon himself our sin and then rose again overcoming sin and death forever. He is Lord over all! And for all! No one is excluded. All who believe in Jesus as Lord will be saved.
If we are made right with God by faith in Jesus alone, what do our actions matter? It’s not that the good or right things we do (here referred to as law or works) have no meaning now, but rather they are now filled with meaning. Not acts hoping to gain us salvation but rather now acts of love that we do out of the wonder and kindness of being saved by faith in Jesus alone.
Thank you Jesus for saving me. Thank you for including me, and all people, in your salvation plan. Thank you for giving meaning to my actions. Help me to live out a life of love and good works in honour of you and all you have done for me, by your grace. I love you Lord Jesus.
Written by Zoe Stewart
3 Is there any advantage in being a Jew? Is there any value in being circumcised? 2 There is great value in every way! First of all, the Jews have been given the very words of God. 3 What if some Jews were not faithful? Will the fact that they weren’t faithful keep God from being faithful? 4 Not at all! God is true, even if every human being is a liar. It is written, “You are right when you sentence me. You are fair when you judge me.” (Psalm 51:4) 5 Doesn’t the fact that we are wrong prove more clearly that God is right? Then what can we say? Can we say that God is not fair when he brings his anger down on us? As you can tell, I am just using human ways of thinking. 6 God is certainly fair! If he weren’t, how could he judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “When I lie, it becomes clearer that God is truthful. It makes his glory shine more brightly. Why then does he find me guilty of sin?” 8 Why not say, “Let’s do evil things so that good things will happen”? Some people actually lie by reporting that this is what we say. They are the ones who will rightly be found guilty. No One Is Right With God 9 What should we say then? Do we Jews have any advantage? Not at all! We have already claimed that Jews and Gentiles are sinners. Everyone is under the power of sin. 10 It is written, “No one is right with God, no one at all. 11 No one understands. No one trusts in God. 12 All of them have turned away. They have all become worthless. No one does anything good, no one at all.” (Psalms 14:1–3; 53:1–3; Ecclesiastes 7:20) 13 “Their throats are like open graves. With their tongues they tell lies.” (Psalm 5:9) “The words from their lips are like the poison of a snake.” (Psalm 140:3) 14 “Their mouths are full of curses and bitterness.” (Psalm 10:7) 15 “They run quickly to commit murder. 16 They leave a trail of harmful actions. 17 They do not know how to live in peace.” (Isaiah 59:7,8) 18 “They don’t have any respect for God.” (Psalm 36:1) 19 What the law says, it says to those who are ruled by the law. Its purpose is to shut every mouth and make the whole world accountable to God. 20 So no one will be considered right with God by obeying the law. Instead, the law makes us more aware of our sin.
This passage reminds me of all sorts of theological discussions that must have gone on in the temple courts and synagogues in Jesus’ and Paul’s time. Discussions over the law and discussions about HOW DO YOU AND I GET RIGHT WITH GOD?
These discussions have not stopped and here in Romans 3 – I love the final verse 20. “20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” The Law gave us a ‘pass mark’ – and we all fall short … BUT GOD, BUT JESUS AND HIS SACRIFICE has found the way.
The world is broken and I am broken; we are all guilty. Yet we all long to want it to be right, to be resolved, ‘perfect’; the cry there must be more to life than this. Yet this side of heaven it will never be what it should be – “He has set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done” Ecclesiastes 3 v 11.
At times we could become overwhelmed at other times complacent in the ability to change – BUT GOD.
What can I do? I can share Jesus. I can love people. I can show people what Jesus looks like in me. I can ‘help save just one more’ – by being His Ambassador on earth for as long as I live. That is all He has asked me to do.
Oh Lord help us to become more like you. Help us to share our lives with others so they can see You in us.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
17 Suppose you call yourself a Jew. You trust in the law. You brag that you know God. 18 You know what God wants. You agree with what is best because the law teaches you. 19 You think you know so much more than the people you teach. You think you’re helping blind people. You think you are a light for those in the dark. 20 You think you can make foolish people wise. You act like you’re teaching little children. You think that the law gives you all knowledge and truth. 21 You claim to teach others, but you don’t even teach yourself! You preach against stealing. But you steal! 22 You say that people should not commit adultery. But you commit adultery! You hate statues of gods. But you rob temples! 23 You brag about the law. But when you break it, you rob God of his honor! 24 It is written, “The Gentiles say evil things against God’s name because of you.” (Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:22) 25 Circumcision has value if you obey the law. But if you break the law, it is just as if you hadn’t been circumcised. 26 And sometimes those who aren’t circumcised do what the law requires. Won’t God accept them as if they had been circumcised? 27 Many are not circumcised physically, but they obey the law. They will prove that you are guilty. You are breaking the law, even though you have the written law and are circumcised. 28 A person is not a Jew if they are a Jew only on the outside. And circumcision is more than just something done to the outside of a man’s body. 29 No, a person is a Jew only if they are a Jew on the inside. And true circumcision means that the heart has been circumcised by the Holy Spirit. The person whose heart has been circumcised does more than obey the written law. The praise that matters for that kind of person does not come from other people. It comes from God.
Paul is really challenging the Jewish people in this passage of Scripture. He takes a swipe at their long held beliefs of privilege associated with being born a Jew and their knowledge of God’s law. The Jews pride themselves on their knowledge of God’s law but do they really know God? Do they put God’s laws into practise? Paul goes as far as saying if you are not obeying God’s laws then you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. This must have truly incensed the Jewish people!
The final couple of verses are even more challenging as Paul goes onto explain that merely obeying God’s law is not enough. Paul goes onto talk about a change in one’s heart produced by God’s spirit. A person touched by God’s spirit aims to please God and not man.
I found myself asking many a question as a result of this passage:
The things Paul put to the Jews thousands of years ago still challenge us as Christians today. It is a clear reminder about the dangers of religion and hypocrisy. If we diligently allow God’s spirit to touch us and change us we will avoid these pitfalls.
Dear God, by the power of your Spirit help me to lead a life that is right before you. Please enable me to seek your praise above the praise of man. Amen.
Written by Ainslie Woods
12 Some people do not know God’s law when they sin. They will not be judged by the law when they die. Others do know God’s law when they sin. They will be judged by the law. 13 Hearing the law does not make a person right with God. People are considered to be right with God only when they obey the law. 14 Gentiles do not have the law. Sometimes they just naturally do what the law requires. They are a law for themselves. This is true even though they don’t have the law. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts. The way their minds judge them proves this fact. Sometimes their thoughts find them guilty. At other times their thoughts find them not guilty. 16 This will happen on the day God appoints Jesus Christ to judge people’s secret thoughts. That’s part of my good news.
“People will be judged on the day God appoints Jesus Christ to judge their secret thoughts. That’s part of my good news.”
On its own it doesn’t sound like good news, but in its way it’s the key to receiving the good bit of the news. Whether I know God’s law by heart or only know in my heart what I should do, if I can recognize that my efforts to become righteous have already failed, it becomes obvious that I need what Jesus did for me. Receiving that gift becomes the only rational conclusion.
Recognizing that my efforts are inadequate is liberating. Instead of filling my life with futile attempts to do it myself, I can fill my life with the sonship Jesus bought for me. Instead of endless legalistic arguments about which bits of the law I’m under, I can step into the fullness of the life Jesus gives me.
So long as I hear the whole of the good news.
Written by David Cornell
2 If you judge someone else, you have no excuse for it. When you judge another person, you are judging yourself. You do the same things you blame others for doing. 2 We know that when God judges those who do evil things, he judges fairly. 3 Though you are only a human being, you judge others. But you yourself do the same things. So how do you think you will escape when God judges you? 4 Do you disrespect God’s great kindness and favor? Do you disrespect God when he is patient with you? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is meant to turn you away from your sins? 5 But you are stubborn. In your heart you are not sorry for your sins. You are storing up anger against yourself. The day of God’s anger is coming. Then his way of judging fairly will be shown. 6 God “will pay back each person in keeping with what they have done.” (Psalm 62:12; Proverbs 24:12) 7 God will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good. They want glory, honor, and life that never ends. 8 But there are others who only look out for themselves. They don’t accept the truth. They go astray. God will pour out his great anger on them. 9 There will be trouble and suffering for everyone who does evil. That is meant first for the Jews. It is also meant for the Gentiles. 10 But there will be glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good. That is meant first for the Jews. It is also meant for the Gentiles. 11 God treats everyone the same.
This passage is straight to the point. It gives us a clear eternal perspective on salvation and the freedom and grace we have in Jesus. On the other hand, it is confronting and heart-breaking when we are reminded what will happen to those without faith in Him.
I am particularly drawn to vs 4 which says, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you?” I am so thankful that God is kind, tolerant and patient towards a sinner like myself, and am reminded to be the same towards those around me. Particularly those away from Christ. I don’t want the people I love to experience God’s anger and wrath for refusing to obey Him (vs 7). So in reading these verses I ask myself, “What am I doing right now to bring others closer to Christ?” This is the eternal perspective that I want to hold onto every day. This is what matters most.
God, thank You for saving me. Thank You that because of Jesus, I can turn from my sin and experience Your kindness and patience. Please help me to have an eternal perspective towards those around me and give me courage to do what You call me to. In Jesus’ name.
Written by Laura Samperi
16 I want to preach it because I’m not ashamed of the good news. It is God’s power to save everyone who believes. It is meant first for the Jews. It is meant also for the Gentiles. 17 The good news shows God’s power to make people right with himself. God’s power to be made right with him is given to the person who has faith. It happens by faith from beginning to end. It is written, “The one who is right with God will live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) 18 God shows his anger from heaven. It is against all the godless and evil things people do. They are so evil that they say no to the truth. 19 The truth about God is plain to them. God has made it plain. 20 Ever since the world was created it has been possible to see the qualities of God that are not seen. I’m talking about his eternal power and about the fact that he is God. Those things can be seen in what he has made. So people have no excuse for what they do. 21 They knew God. But they didn’t honor him as God. They didn’t thank him. Their thinking became worthless. Their foolish hearts became dark. 22 They claimed to be wise. But they made fools of themselves. 23 They would rather have statues of gods than the glorious God who lives forever. Their statues of gods are made to look like people, birds, animals and reptiles. 24 So God let them go. He allowed them to do what their sinful hearts wanted to. He let them commit sexual sins. They made one another’s bodies impure by what they did. 25 They chose a lie instead of the truth about God. They worshiped and served created things. They didn’t worship the Creator. But he is praised forever. Amen. 26 So God let them continue to have their shameful desires. Their women committed sexual acts that were not natural. 27 In the same way, the men turned away from their natural love for women. They burned with sexual desire for each other. Men did shameful things with other men. They suffered in their bodies for all the wrong things they did. 28 They didn’t think it was important to know God. So God let them continue to have evil thoughts. They did things they shouldn’t do. 29 They are full of every kind of sin, evil and ungodliness. They want more than they need. They commit murder. They want what belongs to other people. They fight and cheat. They hate others. They say mean things about other people. 30 They tell lies about them. They hate God. They are rude and proud. They brag. They think of new ways to do evil. They don’t obey their parents. 31 They do not understand. They can’t be trusted. They are not loving and kind. 32 They know that God’s commands are right. They know that those who do evil things should die. But they continue to do those very things. They also approve of others who do them.
The sentence which sticks out most to me from this passage is, “They traded the truth about God for a lie.” This truth essentially was not to acknowledge God for who he is and includes not worshipping God or giving him thanks. The consequences of this choice, made intentionally or unwittingly, are dire:
Neither of these options are attractive or helpful! On the flipside, if we give God due respect, acknowledge him for who he is, worship him and give him thanks it stands to reason the opposite will occur. We will have the mind of Christ; full of light, wisdom and peace. God will also be near, close by and won’t leave us to our own wayward devices. This Scripture reminds of us of the importance of building worship, thanks and simply acknowledging God for who he is in our daily lives. Making it a habit and a part of who we are no matter what we face or the season we find ourselves in.
Dear Lord, help us to never take lightly who you are. Help us to be grateful for all you have done and may your praise always be on our lips. Amen.
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
Phone: +61 2 9875 0300
PO Box 2744,
Carlingford NSW 2118
7:00 PM Youth Service
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118
9:00 AM NEW Morning service time
10:00 AM Church Morning tea for both AM service
10:30 AM NEW Morning service time (but come early for morning tea!)
5:30 PM Evening Service
Carlingford High School Hall,
547 North Rocks Rd, Carlingford
NSW, Australia 2118