Friday 11 October, 2013

Romans 13:8-10

8 Pay everything you owe. But you can never pay back all the love you owe each other. Those who love others have done everything the law requires. 9 Here are some commandments to think about. “Do not commit adultery.” “Do not commit murder.” “Do not steal.” “Do not want what belongs to others.” ( These and other commandments are all included in one rule. Here’s what it is. “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 10 Love does not harm its neighbor. So love does everything the law requires.

I love how the laws of  “you shall not this” and “you shall not that” are summed up and turned into one simple and positive statement: Love your neighbour as yourself. The negative is turned into a positive; the don’ts are turned into a proactive DO!  Love is the fulfilment of the law.

I find this is especially helpful to remember when someone has done something unkind to me and I am tempted to try and get back at them in some way. Love does no harm to a neighbour. I can choose to just let it go, and let grace and forgiveness cover whatever has been done to me.

I actually found this hardest when my kids were younger and would come home from school upset because someone had been mean to them. My natural human response was to think of some way to get back at the kid who had hurt my kid. But thankfully I knew a better way – God’s way of love and forgiveness and was able to teach that to my kids as well.

If everyone lived like that, imagine how different this world would be. God give us the grace to be different and to love like You love.

Written by Shelley Witt

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Thursday 10 October, 2013

Romans 13:1-7

13 All of you must be willing to obey completely those who rule over you. There are no authorities except the ones God has chosen. Those who now rule have been chosen by God. 2 So when you oppose the authorities, you are opposing those whom God has appointed. Those who do that will be judged. 3 If you do what is right, you won’t need to be afraid of your rulers. But watch out if you do what is wrong! You don’t want to be afraid of those in authority, do you? Then do what is right. The one in authority will praise you. 4 He serves God and will do you good. But if you do wrong, watch out! The ruler doesn’t carry a sword for no reason at all. He serves God. And God is carrying out his anger through him. The ruler punishes anyone who does wrong. 5 You must obey the authorities. Then you will not be punished. You must also obey them because you know it is right. 6 That’s also why you pay taxes. The authorities serve God. Ruling takes up all their time. 7 Give to everyone what you owe. Do you owe taxes? Then pay them. Do you owe anything else to the government? Then pay it. Do you owe respect? Then give it. Do you owe honor? Then show it.

Gosh what a passage. We so don’t want to hear that we need to not speed or other minor things that we think are not important. On the other hand we want other people to stick to the laws. It’s great that God is part of how life works. That He thinks an organised world is important and part of His plan.

In “The Message” version part of verse 7 reads “Fulfill your obligations as a citizen.” That’s an interesting matter to think about. How should we participate in our community? What can we bring to those who live in our community? What skills do we have that might be useful to others? Our busy lives often mean we are quite self-focused. For each of us, there will be something that God puts on our hearts that we are passionate about. We should ask Him what particular aspect of how our community works He would like us to look at and get involved in. What is it for you?

Praise You Lord – that You are interested in our society running well and for each of us to participate in making a community. Help us to learn what part we can play.

Written by Therese Manning

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Wednesday 9 October, 2013

Romans 12:9-21

9 Love must be honest and true. Hate what is evil. Hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourselves. 11 Never let the fire in your heart go out. Keep it alive. Serve the Lord. 12 When you hope, be joyful. When you suffer, be patient. When you pray, be faithful. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Welcome others into your homes. 14 Bless those who hurt you. Bless them, and do not call down curses on them. 15 Be joyful with those who are joyful. Be sad with those who are sad. 16 Agree with each other. Don’t be proud. Be willing to be a friend of people who aren’t considered important. Don’t think that you are better than others. 17 Don’t pay back evil with evil. Be careful to do what everyone thinks is right. 18 If possible, live in peace with everyone. Do that as much as you can. 19 My friends, don’t try to get even. Leave room for God to show his anger. It is written, “I am the One who judges people. I will pay them back,” (Deuteronomy 32:35) says the Lord. 20 Do just the opposite. Scripture says, “If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. By doing those things, you will pile up burning coals on their heads.” 21 Don’t let evil overcome you. Overcome evil by doing good.

Sometimes the Bible contains complex messages that are difficult to understand. Sometimes the Bible teaches on matters of theology that challenge us to think deeply about who we are and about the very nature of God himself.

Romans12 is not complex or highly cognitive though. It is a simple and direct instruction on how to live out true, deep love.

The challenge is not in being able to understand this page but in being able to actually live it out! The standard for what it means to really live a life of love is incredibly high!

Lord, help me to not only strive to understand the challenging concepts in your word, but also to love in a way that challenges and changes me.

Written by Justin Ware

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Tuesday 8 October, 2013

Romans 12:3-8

3 God’s grace has been given to me. So here is what I say to every one of you. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you should. Be reasonable when you think about yourself. Keep in mind the amount of faith God has given you. 4 Each of us has one body with many parts. And the parts do not all have the same purpose. 5 So also we are many persons. But in Christ we are one body. And each part of the body belongs to all the other parts. 6 We all have gifts. They differ in keeping with the grace that God has given each of us. Do you have the gift of prophecy? Then use it in keeping with the faith you have. 7 Is it your gift to serve? Then serve. Is it teaching? Then teach. 8 Is it telling others how they should live? Then tell them. Is it giving to those who are in need? Then give freely. Is it being a leader? Then work hard at it. Is it showing mercy? Then do it cheerfully.

Who are you and what you think about the gifts God has given you.

Present yourselves as a living sacrifice, do this in everything you do, by the power and strength God gives you. Take time to evaluate yourself, and where you are in your Christian life. Not on your feelings, but on the truth of what God says about you.

Reflect on all God has told you since your salvation. The degree to which you accept what God has said about you, will give you confidence, courage and ability to function any day, and with any task. This will be according to how much you believe what God has said.

Do you prophecy? If so, use it in accordance with your faith. Do you love to serve? Then serve with all joy.  Do you come alive when you teach, then find somewhere to use your gift of teaching. Do people respond to your encouragement? What a blessing it is to spur someone to hang in there, take that extra step, or to keep trusting when life is bleak.  Do you have a heart to contribute to the needy? Give generously, as Jesus said “whosoever you do to the least of these, you do to me”  Do you naturally take the lead at church, at work or with your friends? Remember, God has given you this gift, be diligent and have integrity.

Thank you Lord that I am made in the image of God, I am filled with the Spirit of God and, I am part of Your plan.

Written by Cath Croft

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    Demos Shakarian was the founder of a organisation called the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International which at that time and still now has an impact on Christians all around the world. A biography about him called ‘The Happiest People on Earth’ was written by John and Elisabeth Sherrill in 1975.

    He was quoted as saying that if you find your gift and do it, you will be the happiest people on earth.

    His primary gift was serving.

    Since that time a number of respectable studies into the characteristics of churches has shown that churches that help their members identify and exercise their gifting have very high rates of contentment (personal fulfillment).

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Monday 7 October, 2013

Romans 12:1-2

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. 2 Don’t live any longer 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.

This section of scripture begins with a 'therefore', so what is the 'therefore' there for? In my opinion Paul is saying “Because of everything I have written in this letter to the Romans so far, I urge you to….”

This letter has been one of incredible depth as the amazing plan of God to forgive, heal, restore and give life is revealed. The scope and ugliness of human sin is explored and contrasted next to the wisdom and love of God. Jesus is revealed as the centre piece of all history and the one who brings life from death.

So here, Paul says to me “because of God's love, because of his wisdom, because I am helpless without Him, give yourself fully to him!”

I am to come to him in prayer, surround myself with His Word, be in the midst of his people and obey what he has said. By doing so I will not just read of the love and wisdom of God, but experience it for myself, taste it and approve that surely His will and plans are good!

Lord, I do not want to be a bystander looking on, I want to get to experience this beautiful and perfectly good plan. God, I will experience your goodness in reading and obeying your Word, in praying and listening to your Spirit, in spending time with your saints and obeying your commands. Thank you for your Spirit so that I can do all these things! You are good!

Written by Andrew Mellor

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Sunday 6 October, 2013

Romans 11:25-36

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 non-Jews has entered God’s kingdom. 26 And so all Israel will be saved. It is written, “The One who saves will come from Mount Zion. He will remove sin from Jacob. 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. That is for your good. But as far as God’s choice is concerned, the people of Israel are loved. That 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. 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 is in the Lord’s mind? Or who can ever give him advice?” (Isaiah 40:13) 35 “Has anyone ever given anything to God, so that God has to pay him back?” (Job 41:11) 36 All things come from him. All things are directed by him. All things are for his good. May God be given the glory forever! Amen.

The Apostle Paul opened the mystery of God's salvation plan: When the full number of the Gentiles has come in, all Israel will be saved.  But the question/problem is how? How to make them (Gentiles and Jews) all to be saved?  Well, God has bound everyone over to disobedience (all have sinned). So, just like the Gentiles were disobedient to God and have now received mercy as a result of the Jew’s disobedience, so the Jews too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to the Gentiles.

No wonder, Paul made such great psalm to praise the Lord when he discovered God’s salvation plan. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God …… For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

The challenge of this passage to me is: Do I have full faith in Him and believe His plan will never fail.

Dear Lord, there is no one like You. You are the Alpha. You are the Omega. Your gifts and calling are irrevocable.  Amen

Written by Allen Leu

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Saturday 5 October, 2013

Romans 11:11-24

11 Again, here is what I ask. They didn’t trip and fall once and for all time, did they? Not at all! Because Israel sinned, those who aren’t Jews can be saved. That will make Israel jealous of them. 12 Israel’s sin brought riches to the world. Their loss brought riches to the non-Jews. 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 non-Jews. So I think the work I do for God and others is very important. 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. Be afraid. 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!

Paul is busy talking to a church made up of both Jews & Gentiles.  He is using an example familiar to his readers – grafting olive trees.  The root being the Jews & the grafted in branches being the Gentiles.  He is reminding the Gentiles in the church that they are only there because of their faith in Jesus – they are not superior to the Jewish believers or unbelievers in any way.  Both Jewish and Gentile believers are only in the church because of their faith in Jesus.  Both can be pruned because of unbelief and both can be ‘grafted’ in through faith in Jesus.

For me this is a reminder that God’s Kingdom is for ALL – the only thing that counts is our personal faith in Jesus – no matter what our cultural background.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Friday 4 October, 2013

Romans 11:1-10

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, it is no longer a matter of working for it. If it were, grace wouldn’t be grace anymore. 7 What should we say then? Israel did not receive what they wanted so badly. But those who were chosen did. God made the rest of them 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 it make Israel trip and fall. Let Israel 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)

Curious that Paul spends so much time writing about the Jews in a letter to non-Jews. Clearly, there are universal principles here that Paul wants to make sure the Roman Christians (and us) don’t miss.

There are time when we all feel alone in life. Maybe through struggles or tragedy or trials. We may feel alone in our faith like Elijah did in v2 – like we are the only one going through it – whatever the ‘it’ might be. We feel that way – but that’s all it is. A feeling. The truth is we are never alone. God has promised to never leave us (Deut 31:8). That’s not based on a feeling – that’s fact!

For me, it’s times when I feel alone that getting to Church is absolutely essential. Our Heavenly Father lovingly and carefully plants us in a family of people who are either feeling the same way as us and will walk the journey with us or have already walked the journey and can guide us through. Either way my feelings of being alone could not be further from the truth.

Lord, thank you so much for planting me in Church and for the iron-clad promise of never leaving me alone. Grant me greater courage and humility to seek the help of the amazingly faithful people You have placed around me. Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

1 (reply)
  1. David Newton says:

    Quote of the Day!
    “For me, it’s times when I feel alone that getting to Church is absolutely essential.”

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Thursday 3 October, 2013

Romans 10:14-21

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 word of 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

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Wednesday 2 October, 2013

Romans 10:5 -13

5 Moses explained how the law could help a person do what God requires. He said, “The one who does those 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 word is near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart.” (Deuteronomy 30:14) That means the word we are preaching. You must put your faith in it. 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 that Jesus is Lord. And so you are saved. 11 Scripture says, “The one who trusts 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)

Verse 1 and the early part of verse 2 in the Message Bible say this: “Moses wrote that anyone who insists on using the law code to live right before God soon discovers it’s not so easy … every detail of life regulated by fine print! 6 But trusting God to shape the right living in us is a different story …”

Paul points out what is painfully obvious to me – that living right before God – to the letter of the law is difficult – actually it is impossible! Why do I try…. when trusting God to “shape the right living in me” is a way better option?

The end of Verse 8 reminds me “It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us.”

I am more and more aware of how I struggle to accept the simplicity of God’s grace – His enabling power at work in me. Without His Word – the Bible – and the company of fellow followers of Jesus – I would be chained to a law-following religious approach to my relationship with God.

I thank You God again today that You know me and constantly remind me of who You are, what You have done and what You are doing in me. I choose again, with the word of faith on my lips and in my heart, to welcome You to shape right living in me.

Written by Ps. Linda Quinn

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