Food for the Soul
Food for the Soul
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (TPT)
14 For it is Christ’s love that fuels our passion and motivates us, because we are absolutely convinced that he has given his life for all of us. This means all died with him, 15 so that those who live should no longer live self-absorbed lives but lives that are poured out for him—the one who died for us and now lives again.
Our text today highlights the love and sacrifice of Christ in that by dying for us He has also saved us from a life without purpose.
Christ died for all, everyone who has ever lived, who is currently living and all who will live in the future – His sacrifice leaves no one out. He has saved us from an eternity of separation from Him, separation from everything good.
So what is my part in this?
As Christ has died for me, He calls me to die to myself…my own plans and ambition, my desire for material possessions and comfort.
He called me to lay it all on the table before Him and instead gives me back a new heart that is ‘fuelled by passion’, to change my thinking for His, to look out for others rather than myself.
He makes this possible…I cannot die to my selfishness unless He gives me the heart.
And the point of this is…
Of course God wants to grow us in character but primarily our actions impact others, hopefully drawing them to Christ.
Often the process is long, walking with people, being involved in their lives, rather than applying a band aid to a gaping wound; God provides healing in a multitude of small actions, that one day results in a change of heart.
Sometimes there is a long delay between acts of kindness and the turning of a heart to Christ….but no kindness in the name of Jesus is wasted. God remembers and uses them all to His purpose, anything as simple as a cup of water.
The starting place (for me) is prayer.
There is no other option as I am fully convinced that I cannot do anything worthwhile in my own strength. I simply cannot do what only the Holy Spirit can.
Giving in prayer is perhaps the greatest act we can do on behalf of others and sometimes the only thing God calls me to do.
It does not burden me when I walk with Him – in fact, when I am in step with Him the walk is satisfying and inevitably fruitful. My treasure is in heaven and I experience the truth that it is so much more blessed to give than receive.
Written by Lainy Samperi
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (TPT)
2 My brothers and sisters, when I first came to proclaim to you the secrets of God, I refused to come as an expert, trying to impress you with my eloquent speech and lofty wisdom. 2 For while I was with you I was determined to be consumed with one topic—Jesus, the crucified Messiah. 3 I stood before you feeling inadequate, filled with reverence for God, and trembling under the sense of the importance of my words. 4 The message I preached and how I preached it was not an attempt to sway you with persuasive arguments but to prove to you the almighty power of God’s Holy Spirit. 5 For God intended that your faith not be established on man’s wisdom but by trusting in his almighty power.
In this passage, Paul tells us it is not how eloquently we speak or our superior knowledge that enables us to reach out to others and share our faith in Jesus Christ, it is the power of the Holy Spirit.
If Paul felt totally inadequate and afraid when addressing the Corinthians, one might wonder how we will fare? I must confess that I am terrible at quoting Scriptures and have a great respect and admiration for Christians who can quote the right Scripture at the right time. Don’t get me wrong, I can share the stories and messages, just not always able to tell you exactly where to find them in the Bible. The importance of spending time in the Word cannot be overstated. However, we have all probably met someone who can rattle off great lengths of Scripture but the message of Jesus’ love for them has not reached their hearts.
Paul’s tactic was not to give long glossy speeches and sprout the latest philosophical arguments. He made the decision to keep his message plain and simple – the message of Jesus and his life; and his ultimate sacrifice, made in love for us. Paul teaches us that Jesus must be in the forefront of our message of faith to others.
To be able to share our faith and lead another to a life with Christ is an honour and a privilege. Too often we rely on our own wisdom and confidence – or lack thereof – and simply do nothing or totally get it wrong. As such, we can be encouraged by Paul’s message to not rest on our wisdom but on God’s power. A power that is active in ourselves and in the lives of others.
Another’s response to a life of faith is a response to God’s power, we simply need to start the conversation.
Lord, may we have the confidence to act on the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and share with others our testimony, our faith in Jesus. I give thanks we do not have to rely on our wisdom alone but can trust in your almighty power. Amen.
Written by Sue Lavery
Acts 1:4-8 (TPT)
4 and shared meals with them. Jesus instructed them, “Don’t leave Jerusalem, but wait here until you receive the gift I told you about, the gift the Father has promised. 5 For John baptized you in water, but in a few days from now you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit!” 6 Every time they were gathered together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is it the time now for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” 7 He answered, “The Father is the one who sets the fixed dates and the times of their fulfillment. You are not permitted to know the timing of all that he has prepared by his own authority. 8 But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces—even to the remotest places on earth!”
As I read this passage, I am reminded that before Peter and the disciples took the good news of Jesus to their community, their nation and far beyond, a few essential things occurred.
Firstly, Peter and the disciples were convinced that Jesus was the Son of God and the hope for the world. After Jesus death he appeared to them many times and proved his resurrection to them by many signs, over an extended period. Jesus overcame death, he proved undoubtable that he was God, and because of this his message of hope was real and powerful.
Secondly, the disciples related with the resurrected Jesus. They sat with him, they spoke together and shared meals. He was the same Jesus before and after resurrection – the Jesus who relates, who invites and who includes people – and who commands them to do the same.
Finally, the disciples did what Jesus commanded in this passage – they waited for the promised Holy Spirit to come and infill them and empower them to be witnesses. Further on in Acts we see the results. They are filled by the Holy Spirit and they begin to share the good news. Peter and the disciples share the gospel with great anointing and authority, they are guided by the spirit towards people and they (like Jesus) open up the gospel to whole groups of people who had previously been forgotten or overlooked (the gentiles, women, the poor, and minorities), their words of invitation are accompanied with miraculous acts of healing, deliverance, freedom and restoration.
When I read this passage, I am reminded that I too am filled with the same Holy Spirit to be a messenger to all people. That I not only speak the message but that I, because the Holy Spirit lives in me, embody the message. I am challenged to live the gospel. To see people as Jesus does, to love and care for them, to listen to people and to speak of the hope of Jesus, and to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus fill me again with your Holy Spirit. Help me to be your messenger of hope, love and restoration to all those around me. I ask especially that you would give me eyes to see and ears to hear those who are lonely or feel forgotten, as you did. Amen
Written by Ps. Zoe Stewart
Matthew 28:18-20 (TPT)
18 Then Jesus came close to them and said, “All the authority of the universe has been given to me. 19 Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 20 And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.”
Jesus was crucified, buried and risen; he asks the disciples to meet him in Galilee. In Matthew 28, v19 (TPT) Jesus commands his disciples- “Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations”. He continues – “baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you” (including this command to “go!”).
This may seem like a hard ask for the first disciples – they were oppressed by the Romans and religious leaders; and perhaps for current day believers also — until we look at the words around this great commission to “go”. First, all authority is with Jesus and He says (TPT) “now go in MY authority”. Then Jesus says, “never forget that I am with you every day”, other translations say, “I am with you always”.
The first step in making disciples is introducing the person to a relationship with Jesus. In my experience when stepping out with a “go” opportunity, not everyone I talk to about Jesus jumps at the idea of getting to know Him personally, and I am OK with that. Jesus will be there with me, and Jesus will be there with the next Christian that talks to that same person on their journey.
In January we were on holiday at the beach. The lady beside us lost her car key. Her spare key was 150km away. We looked and looked in the sand but could not find it. After an hour she gave up and left, distraught, I said to her that I would pray that she gets the key and she said thanks. My next prayer was obvious – I prayed in tongues and then prayed: “Jesus, you know where the key is, please show me”. He did, I found the key, then found the distraught lady in the beach car park, reminded her that I said I would pray, gave her the key and said –“I am not sure if you believe in Jesus, but after what just happened you may want to consider doing an Alpha course to look into it a bit further”. I don’t know what the lady did next, or what Jesus did next on this lady’s journey.
Thank you Jesus for your assurance, if I see a “go” opportunity at the beach or anywhere or any time, may I remember Your words:- “I am with you always”.
Written by Andrew Wilson
Matthew 5:13-16 (TPT)
13 “Your lives are like salt among the people. But if you, like salt, become bland, how can your ‘saltiness’ be restored? Flavorless salt is good for nothing[a] and will be thrown out and trampled on by others. 14 “Your lives light up the world. Let others see your light from a distance, for how can you hide a city that stands on a hilltop? 15 And who would light a lamp and then hide it in an obscure place? Instead, it’s placed where everyone in the house can benefit from its light. 16 So don’t hide your light![d] Let it shine brightly before others, so that the commendable things you do will shine as light upon them, and then they will give their praise to your Father in heaven.”
One of my favourite meals is hot fish and chips with chicken salt. However, when the chips aren’t seasoned right, it’s quite a letdown. The distinct flavour is missing, and the chips which are still hot and crunchy just seem to be missing something essential.
In my observation of this passage, Jesus comments that our ‘lives are like salt among the people’. As followers of Christ in this society, we bring something noticeably different to the standard way of living. My mind jumps to the fruits of the Spirit, that through the work of the Holy Spirit we live as people characterised by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These characteristics set us apart, giving us our ‘salty-ness’, and by living these out it makes the work of God attractive to those around us. How cool is that!
But Jesus also issues us a warning, that ‘flavourless salt is good for nothing’. It’s a blunt explanation that if our lives are shaped by disobedience to God and ignorance to the work of the Holy Spirit, this will result in our being ‘thrown out and trampled by others’. In response to this, I’ve begun to ask God to soften my heart so that I would be easily shaped by the Holy Spirit, and to also make me aware of the opportunities to be ‘salty’. I’m reminded of I Corinthians 11:1 which says, ‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ’. Let’s strive to live as Christ did, and live a life shaped by the Holy Spirit. By living in this way, we can be sure that those that surround us will see our Godly ‘salty-ness’ and even be led to follow in Christ’s footsteps too.
Written by Andrew Molteno
Proverbs 11:30 (TPT)
30 But a life lived loving God bears lasting fruit, for the one who is truly wise wins souls
In 1855, preacher Joseph M. Scriven wrote a poem to comfort his mother called ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’. It was later composed into a well-known hymn sung by Aretha Franklin and many others.
The poem illustrates the depth of relationship and daily interactions we can expect to have with Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, as believers. Through trails, tribulations, moment of weakness, grief, joy, celebrations, accomplishments, victories, friendships, charity and love – God is there to guide us, comfort us, sustain us and equip us. The poem paints a picture of a life shaped by companionship and compassion.
When it comes to evangelism, we can often make the mistake of focusing on our role as ‘tellers’ or ‘proclaimers’ and forget to focus on how much God longs to be with people, all people, not just Christians. We can forget how He sees, knows, and cares for them and wants to be walking with them. We can forget how much He deeply desires to be their friend and can quite easily solve their problems, not to mention wipe away their sin.
Proverbs 11:30 gives us two keys. The first part of the verse inspires us to be loving God and to be walking with Him. Like Moses, to be His friend and to know Him (Ex. 33:11). Once we’re doing this, we intrinsically understand that it is selfish to keep this perfect love to ourselves. In 2 Cor. 5:14 we read “the love of Christ compels us”. This is the foundation of our motivation. We appreciate the immense value we have in our own relationship with God and we understand how important this is for others – not just in eternity, but now.
Where we need wisdom, is to understand individually how to help each person to begin to reach out to God for themselves. We know that “whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). The good news is, we’re confident that God is already at work in this person revealing Himself to them. As Christians, our lives are on display as friends of God. It’s our opportunity to continue to develop our friendship with God so that our lives remain fruitful and fulfilled. Once we truly know God, we know that He loves all people. We know that He has incredible compassion for the lost and a desperate longing to help the poor. The gift of salvation is friendship with God, as well as forgiveness, atonement, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification and so on. On understanding this we continue to look for ways we can help people to reach out to Him and to know His love. Why not ask God to give you eyes to see what He sees. For Him to open the understanding of your heart and for you to get a sense of what other people’s lives are like without Him and the difference it will make when they do know Him.
Written by Tara Cheesman
1 Corinthians 9:16 (TPT)
16 For you see, even though I proclaim the good news, I can’t take the credit for my labours, for I am compelled to fulfil my duty by completing this work. It would be agony to me if I did not constantly preach the gospel!
In the context of the passage, it is clear that Paul has an inner conviction to preach the gospel. You can hear the burden and the urgency of his expression ‘it would be agony to me if I did not constantly preach the gospel!’.
How many of us live with this urgency and weightiness of the gospel’s importance? How often is sharing the gospel snuffed out by our busyness, our insecurity about what others might think about us and our own ambivalence to the gospel in the individualistic society that we live in?
Paul’s conviction to preach the gospel came from a life transforming encounter with Jesus. During this encounter, Paul received a revelation of Jesus’ Lordship – think bright lights and a voice from heaven, literally. (Acts 9:1-9).
Paul obviously had a powerful testimony of being saved by Jesus. He writes on many occasions of his testimony, ‘even though I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy’ (1 Timothy 1:13).
Now I realise that not all of us might have a radical conversion story like Paul, but each of us have a unique and distinct testimony of how God has saved us from our sin and made us into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Take some time to reflect on your walk with Jesus.
What do you find compelling about Jesus and His Kingdom?
What do you love about Jesus?
How has Jesus changed the way you live?
As we take the time to consider the way that Jesus has changed the way we live and the way we see the world, the gospel will naturally flow out of us. Lord Jesus, draw to our minds your saving grace and goodness in our lives. Strengthen our inner conviction about your Lordship and your kingdom and reveal yourself to others through our words and actions. Amen.
Written by Sam Liu
Romans 10:14-15 (TPT)
14 But how can people call on him for help if they’ve not yet believed? And how can they believe in one they’ve not yet heard of? And how can they hear the message of life if there is no one there to proclaim it? 15 And how can the message be proclaimed if messengers have yet to be sent? That’s why the Scriptures say: How welcome is the arrival of those proclaiming the joyful news of peace and of good things to come!
I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about sharing my faith with my friends and family, I get really intimidated. The questions start spinning around in my head like:
What if they don’t like what I have to say?
What if I make things weird?
What if they think I’m being annoying, obnoxious, or even worse, judgemental?!
These questions, I’ve come to realise have actually caused me to undervalue the work that Christ has done in my life. These questions have meant I have missed opportunities to share what Jesus has done in my life with my friends and family out of fear of judgement and rejection.
When writing to the Roman church, Paul had a few questions of his own about sharing the Good News. But instead of questions that paralyse us with fear, these questions remind us why we shouldn’t shy away from sharing the Good News of Jesus. Paul’s questioning here shows us that other people need to hear about Jesus to be able to believe in Him and then consequently cry out to Him as Lord. “Faith comes from hearing the message” (Romans 10:17).
The truth is that Jesus has decided that you and I were worthy of the job of pointing others to Him, He has sent us (The Great Commission – Matthew 28:18-20) and given us our testimony as a way for us to share. How crazy and wonderful is that?! He would choose us, imperfect people, to reveal His perfect love to the people in our world.
Even though the thought of sharing my faith may seem daunting at times, it is one of my biggest hopes that my family and friends would know Jesus, that they would experience God’s love and forgiveness and have eternal life. My prayer is that God would continue to embolden me because nothing breaks my heart more than the thought of my family and friends missing out on eternal life.
When communicated with the love and grace that Christ has shown you, there is incredible power in your story. God has done magnificent things in your life, and He wants your story on display for others to see, so that others can also be transformed by His love and grace. This work of evangelism is not solo work, we can trust that the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to say.
I encourage you today to spend some time reflecting on what Jesus has done in your life, think about ways how you would share it and pray for an opportunity to do so.
God, thank you for your grace, for saving me and for adopting me into your family.
I’m sorry for letting my fear scare me out of opportunities to share your gospel.
Father, Please give me the boldness to share my story with love and kindness to those in my life who don’t know you yet. Give me eyes to see the opportunities You are giving me to share my testimony. May my friends and family follow You.
Written by Caitlin van Noppen
Acts 8:34-35 (TPT)
34 The Ethiopian asked Philip, “Please, can you tell me who the prophet is speaking of? Is it himself or another man?” 35 Philip started with this passage and shared with him the wonderful message of Jesus.
I see a moment in eternity – a sacred and joyous reunion. Philip the evangelist reunited with the Ethiopian Eunuch. They embrace for a time but when Philip looks up, he sees a mass of people; a nation, standing behind this tall, dignified man.
“Who are all these people?” Philip asks.
“My friend” the man says with tears streaming down his face, “all these are yours. Because you told me about Jesus and helped me believe, these people also believed. They are your glory – your reward!” (See 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
I wonder who will be in eternity with Jesus because I shared the gospel with them and they shared the gospel with someone else?
There are two types of people in this passage. And identifying them will help you and I achieve just that…
1. The “Can you tell me…” people. I need to find the “can you tell me people”. They are everywhere. Jesus said so. They may not be where I expect and they may be struggling or lost or in pain or in need. But they are asking. And they are longing for someone they can ask the question “can you tell me…”
2. The “Philip…shared the wonderful message…” person. Am I that person? Am I ready to share the message of Jesus at a moment’s notice – like Philip was? Have I practiced and tested my words and made it familiar? Have I sought coaching and training from wise others to up-skill myself? Have I asked God for a love for the “can you tell me” people that aches so badly- to see them saved and loved and embraced by Jesus?
Will I be the one that will embrace a grateful soul one day in eternity, then see a multitude of others standing behind them? Lord, equip me today to share your message – whatever it takes – I’ll do it. Let my heart break for those who are lost. And all your “can you tell me…” people, please send them to me. Give me the opportunity to tell them about Jesus. Amen
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
Mark 1:14-15 (TPT)
14 Later on, after John the Baptizer was arrested, Jesus went back into the region of Galilee and preached the wonderful gospel of God’s kingdom realm. 15 His message was this: “At last the fulfillment of the age has come! It is time for the realm of God’s kingdom to be experienced in its fullness! Turn your lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel!”
The arrest of John the Baptist appears after Mark has written about John’s preaching in southern Israel and how almost all of Jerusalem has come to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. His role was to baptize with water and to testify to who was coming. Jesus was coming to baptize with the Spirit of Holiness.
John’s call was to preach with the visual sign of cleansing, Jesus would come declaring the internal power of cleansing.
After Jesus himself is physically baptized by John, He spends 40 days of testing in the wilderness. As he exits the wilderness, John the Baptist is arrested. The baton has changed hands. The arrested John is Jesus’ first cousin.
What would you do?
I think I would be going to Jerusalem and protesting and demanding John’s release. I would be fighting for my cousin, however Jesus was not distracted from His call and His mission, to bring about God’s spiritual kingdom to the world.
It makes me wonder at times at what point am I, are you distracted by “world events”, worldly causes and even life’s injustices? Do these distract us from the real mission – to preach the Kingdom of God, repentance of sins, forgiveness, love and grace through the power and infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Mark guides us in what to do, “It is time for the realm of God’s kingdom to be experienced in its fullness”. “Turn you lives back to God and put your trust in the hope-filled gospel.”
Are you experiencing the fullness of the Kingdom?
How will you declare and display the fullness of the Kingdom this week?
Lord, help me to experience the fullness of Your Kingdom and to display it in such a manner that it is infectiously attractive to all who I connect with over this coming week.
Written by Ps. Sue Botta
Isaiah 52:7 (NLT)
7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!
Can you recall a moment in your life where you just wanted to hug, or even kiss (if appropriate), the person who delivered some important good news you had been long awaiting? Perhaps it was the postman delivering news that you had been accepted into the University of your choice, or perhaps news that you got the job you applied for. You might even declare to the bearer of good news that they have “beautiful feet” for bringing it to you. In Isaiah 52:7 the bearer of the most important good news of all, is said to have “beautiful feet” (the equivalent of kissing the postman).
What is this most important good news ever? It is the good news of peace and salvation according to Isaiah 52.7. The messenger, the bearer of this good news, is said to have” beautiful feet”. This expression “beautiful feet” underscores the utmost importance of this news and that it is exceedingly good news. The angels who appeared to the shepherds near Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Christ, exuberantly declared it to be “news of great joy for all the world”.
Recall for a moment who the people in your life were who brought the good news of salvation to you. I, for example, am personally and forever grateful for the man who faithfully visited my home, week after week for several weeks, to share this good news with me, and who led me to receive the Lord as my personal Saviour. God bless his “beautiful feet”.
We too have “beautiful feet” if our feet carry with them, wherever they may go, the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Part of putting on the armour of God listed in Ephesians 6 is to have these feet “fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6: 15), readiness to share this good news of salvation to all.
Are your feet ‘beautiful’? Who will you share the Good News with today/this week?
Written by Brian Parker
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What is true freedom? A lot has been written about Freedom – people have lived & died for it – we all have our own definition of what freedom is & what it looks like to us – Paul sets it out here.
There’s a choice in the way we live – ignore God live our own way, choose sin – leading to things we are ashamed of & ultimately death OR choose God – His ways, leading to holiness & eternal life – & get a “whole, healed, put together life right now” (Msg).
When it’s that simple I know my choice is a no-brainer … V23 in the Message bible puts it like this; ‘ Work hard for sin your whole life & your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master’.
Thank you Father, I choose your gift.
Written by Suzie Hodgson
6 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
Paul is answering some wrong ideas about sin. In chapter 5 Paul told us how sin entered the world because of what one man (Adam) did, so can it be undone by what I do, if I obey the law? Absolutely not. The law only shows how big my sin problem is. Sin can only be undone by what Christ did. Then does it matter what I do? If God’s grace deals with my sin, am I free to do whatever I want? Again, absolutely not.
Paul began Romans by telling us that sin starts with rejecting God. All the things we do and become that degrade us and make us less than God made us flow as consequences. The solution to my sin begins with restored relationship – being “united with Christ” – and the consequences of being reconciled with God are even more profound.
Because I am now united with Christ, somehow I was united with him in his death and that breaks all power and authority that sin might have over me. And I’m also raised with him to life together with him now, with his Spirit. And I have a firm hope of complete resurrection like his when Jesus brings all things to completion. And now I have real freedom – not to do whatever I want (that’s the sin trap) – but to be what he made me to be, walking with him and doing my small part of the things he’s doing. There’s no room for continuing to walk in sin (in rejection of God) when I’m walking with him.
That’s not to say I won’t get things wrong – I’m a work in progress (Paul will get to that in chapter 7). But I’m free to love and worship him with my heart and with what I do – with the whole of me.
Written by David Cornell
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— 13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. 15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sin is such a really depressing subject, and Paul starts this section saying when Adam sinned, sin entered the world. And not only did sin enter the world, but because of Adam’s sin, death also spread to everyone, which is also depressing. And how many times have you tried to speak to someone about sin, and all they see or say is that it is Adam’s fault, or specifically, not their fault? Like we are being punished for something we didn’t do, or that we would have done things differently if it was us in the garden, not Adam?
But when Paul talks about sin here, the focus is not sin, instead, over and over again, Paul refers to “God’s gracious gift” and “God’s wonderful grace” which is the opposite of depressing, its positively uplifting, full of hope and joy at what God has done for us through Christ. Yes, through Adam, death came to all, but through Christ, we have life, we have forgiveness of sins, we receive the gift of righteousness, we have right standing with God resulting in eternal life! There is new life for everyone.
Yes, death is bad, but life in and through Christ is so much better! I can feel the excitement that Paul has in the gracious gift and can see in myself that I need to focus on that more than I do and allow God’s wonderous grace to renew its work in me every day.
Lord Jesus, I thank you for doing for me what I could not. Through your sacrifice I have forgiveness of sins, a right relationship with God, and everlasting life!
Written by Andrew Martin
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Perseverance is a word that has been thrown around a lot in the news in the past week. NASA finally landed a Rover, named Perseverance on Mars after travelling nearly eight months from Earth. Perseverance travelled 174 million kilometres to reach its destination and its mission total cost is about US$3 billion dollars.
The aim of Perseverance is to study the geology of Mars and further understand the universe. Without even being connected to this mission in any way, I am in awe of what has been completed thus far. At a very basic level what humans can achieve is unfathomable. Our greatest achievements in science, particularly astrophysics, have always been surrounded by such a platform of humans working tirelessly to create a project goal that is often at great risk, calculation and expense.
A verse of this passage stood out to me “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
In my own interpretation, I am sure that the team that worked on the Rover would have suffered or been challenged in some way. I am sure there would have been many hurdles along the way to getting this project happening. But what is the result- in this case- success- the Rover has landed. Eight months of the unknowing. Tears and cheers were flowing from the team in the media of this triumph.
Dear God, thank you for the opportunities that you provide for us to learn about the world around us. Thank you for science and the abilities of people to apply their knowledge and skills at great costs. Thank you for giving us the gift of perseverance to help us desire the things we want to achieve in this world. Amen
Written by Susannah Ware
13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[b] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Abraham heard the promise of God – he was to become the father of many nations. He also saw all the barriers to this promise’s fruition – his age, his wife’s barrenness. But rather than focusing on the barriers and doubting that he had heard God correctly, or doubting God’s power to fulfil the promise, Abraham looked to God and trusted Him.
This does not mean that Abraham did not ever waiver in his faith (he did). It also doesn’t mean that he stopped sinning – in fact he was declared righteous whilst still a sinner, not because he earned it but because he was given it as a gift through his faith. Similarly, Jesus has made His own perfect ‘right-ness’ before God available to us through our faith. He has exchanged our sin for His perfect righteousness! He has exchanged our punishment for His inheritance!
Jesus thank you for the gift of your righteousness. Thank you that it doesn’t depend on me. God, too often I focus on what I can or can’t do, and I end up acting/praying within my human bounds. But you are calling us to live lives of faith, to pray/act/believe for things that only you can do. Please grow my faith Lord!
Written by Rhiannon Mellor
4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” 9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Imagine you receive a generous gift, totally unexpected but generously given. But you say, “oh this is good but I can think of something better”!
This passage underlines the earlier teaching of Paul about righteousness by faith. Paul compares a gift with wages, and explains the gift of being counted righteous comes to us because we trust in God for salvation, through Jesus’ death. Just like he gave Abraham, God has given us a beautiful gift – he declares us righteous, he declares us redeemed and our relationship with him restored.
We receive this gift through faith alone, not by what we ourselves bring or have achieved (eg., works see Chapter 3 v 28.) We accept this gift of righteousness, rather than trying to add to it or doing it “better” so we can take the credit. I can’t do “better” than the salvation God has provided through Jesus. It is his generous gift I have not earned or deserved.
Funny though isn’t it. So often I want to add to what he has given, as if it’s not enough. A bit like Abraham. Maybe this stems from thinking God’s gift is not enough, or I’ll feel more deserving if I add to it by what I do, or sacrifice, or deny myself. It’s a trap which cheapens what Jesus has done to save us.
Dear Lord Jesus, please send your Holy Spirit to show me where I am substituting the Father’s beautiful gift of righteousness with my own efforts. I need you now. You are all I need. Amen.
Written by Claire Moore
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
This is such a rich but heady passage. The version I read speaks of all having sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, and all being “justified by his grace as gift” (ESV). I love this phrasing, and it speaks to me afresh of how we are given the righteousness of God. It is not earned. It is not worked for. It is a gift. The very righteousness of God, that sets us at ease before God, that opens up the doorway to full and free relationship with Him who created the heavens and earth and us, is given to us a gift received.
I am so prone to work hard before I accept His grace and rest in His justifying work given me. It is so easy in this busy and full life, with a culture that is busy justifying itself without God, to blindly go with the crowd and in frustration or stress or anxiety tend to try and work myself out before I surrender to God. I’m called by God through this passage to a simple but profound change – start each approach of God by freshly receiving His grace given to you as gift. And then, having by faith freshly “put on” the very righteousness of God that comes in this grace, discern with God what is needed next in life.
Jesus, help me start a new habit of heart here Lord. Amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh
3 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.” 5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7 Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just! 9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin
Paul addresses the notion that some people are tempted to feel they are better than others – that their good behaviour justifies them or makes them a better person. But it’s clearly stated here that there is no one who is righteous – not one.
As someone who has been a Christian for quite some time now, it’s good to be reminded that all of us have the same sinful nature. By grace of God I’ve been cleaned up and made to look pretty good, but without His grace every one of us (including me) would be out rolling in the pigpen of sin.
I am filled today with gratitude for the life I have because of the grace of God. May I remain ever humbled by what I would have been without Jesus.
Written by Shelley Witt
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” 25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. 28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
I remember visiting a church in Europe and going to a Sunday service.
The building itself was ancient, rich with heritage and steeped in history.
The service itself was in English but might as well have been in another language. For me as a Christian, it was so hard to follow. The rites and rituals were unexplained, and I could see that I wasn’t the only person who was struggling. Clearly there were a bunch of visitors who wanted to go to church in this amazing building but didn’t know how to interface with the rules and processes of the service.
Then, at the end of the service, that was it. The person who led the service went out a little door near the front of the church and closed it behind him. He didn’t interact with the people at all.
I wonder if this is a bit like what the non-jewish people in the early Christian church experienced.
And Paul here seems to be addressing the Jewish Christians to get them to realise that they need to stop being so proud of their religiosity. He doesn’t hold back either!
I need to be careful here, because there is a streak in me that can be like these early Christian Jews. It’s way too easy for me to get caught up in the modern laws of being a Christian.How to act and how to vote and what to believe about certain political issues… all of which might be right, but if I don’t do it in a loving way, and a way that helps new believers, then I’m just as sinful in my pride as a non-believer!
Lord keep me humble as I strive to always please you in my words and my actions.
Written by Ps Justin Ware
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
I used to play a “hiding game” with the kids. They would climb on my back and I’d pretend to loose them. I would run around the house and look under furniture saying “where’s Caitlin?” and all the while they were on my back trying to not laugh or make a noise.
We hide from God sometimes v16. Secret sins sure, but sometimes it can be more subtle things. Things like self pity or fear or doubt. Maybe, if I’m really honest, it’s unbelief.
I can’t hide anything from God. He sees it all – I know that. What I don’t get is that He’s my Heavenly Father and He delights in me. It’s me on His back and He’s so happy running around the house trying to make me laugh. When will I come to Him just as I am, secrets and all, and just let Him love me? Because it’s in that place there is forgiveness, and grace, and joy, and real love, and true life-change.
Father God, help me live in this place and nowhere else – You love me and I’m your son and your delight.
Written by Boudy Van Noppen
2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
I hate the thought of being a judgemental person. In fact, I reckon most of us would recoil at the thought of being called judgemental! Unfortunately, I know that judgement of others can sometimes seem immediate, natural and even innate. As humans we are always trying to understand others, yet so often we look only at appearances, or we assume we know the whole story when actually we have caught just a glimpse of what is really going on in someone’s world.
This passage takes it even a step further – Paul writes that if we assume we are better than others just because we do not struggle in the same areas as them, we are actually no better at all, because we have put ourselves in the position of judge. In actual fact, we are all sinners who make poor decisions, who do the wrong thing even when we know not to. This does not mean that we condone the wrong actions of others, but rather that we are to leave the judgement in the hands of God, who sees the whole picture.
I am so glad that God does not shame us or belittle us, even when we are prideful and judgemental. Rather, as verse 4 tells us, He is wonderfully kind and patient with us. May we follow his example and treat others with kindness and respect, rather than jumping in straight away with our own judgements.
God we thank you that you are so kind to us, and that even though you know everything that we ever say and do – the good and the bad – it is your desire to lead us to repentance so that we can be made right with you. Help us to see others as you do, that we may approach people with humility and grace, as you have showed grace to us. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madalaine Tarasenko
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
This passage gets to the heart of the Christian message. God created the world and created us to have relationship with him. But many people have chosen to reject God and exchange his truth for a lie, resulting in his “wrath”. This is an often-misunderstood term and can cause fear. But here we see that God shows his wrath by allowing us to have what we want. When people reject his truth and worship created things rather than the creator, he grants the desires of their hearts – a downward spiral of greed and lusts which takes them further away from him. This all sounds a bit desperate.
But God is loving. He is kind and patient (Rom 2:4) and the aim of his kindness is to lead us to repentance. I think God allows us to degenerate so that we will recognise the emptiness of self-satisfaction and start to look outside ourselves for answers. Paul’s long list of sinful behaviours is a list of symptoms, but the root cause of the problem is broken relationship with God As a physio, if I just treat symptoms rather than diagnosing and treating the real problem, people may feel some short-term relief, but the pain will return. I need to fix the root cause. In the same way, as Christians, we need to focus on the broken relationship with God which is the real cause of the problem – Sin – rather than focussing on sins (the symptoms).
Thank you, Jesus, that you came so that our relationship with our Father could be restored. Thank you that your death and resurrection treated the real problem. Thank you, Lord, for revealing yourself in creation. Please help us, and all the world, to see you and your grace.
Written by Megan Cornell
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. 11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Paul is passionate about sharing the gospel – ie, the good news of Jesus coming to save us. Wherever Paul goes, he shares this gospel message because he knows the powerful impact it has. He knows that when he talks about Jesus, things happen.
The same is true for us today. The gospel message contains God’s saving power and God wants us to share it with others too.
Have you noticed that the four gospels say, “The gospel according to Matthew / Mark / Luke / John”?
Each of these authors are sharing the gospel – the good news of Jesus – in their way. I wonder how you would express it? I wonder what stories about Jesus you would include in your “Gospel according to __________” (insert your name here). Stories of what Jesus has done for you, for example, prayers He has answered for you, ways He has led you, shaped you, instructed you, protected you, revealed His love to you. These stories need to be heard. Why? Because God’s saving power rests on what He has done in your life.
So go on, share your stories and see what happens!
Holy Spirit, help us to share the gospel message – the good news of what Jesus has done for us. Use it to bring others to you.
Written by Gab Martin
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life[a] was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power[b] by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from[c] faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
History records that Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin all had life-changing encounters with God as a result of reading and pondering on the Book of Romans. Martin Luther said that Romans is “The chief part of the New Testament and the perfect Gospel… the absolute epitome of the gospel”
The apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans ahead of his planned visit to the Christians in Rome. He was aware that he may never make it to Rome, and so he wrote them a letter so comprehensive that the Christians there would have a full understanding of the gospel even if Paul himself were not able to visit them.
I remember reading the book of Romans as a young person and struggling to understand some of its complex concepts, but over the years as I have read and re-read this book, it has been instrumental in shaping my understanding of God and the gospel.
I am so grateful that Paul fulfilled his assignment as a “devoted slave to Jesus Christ” authorized by God to write this letter to the Romans. He probably never dreamed that we would still be studying it over 2000 years later.
Each one of us has things that God has assigned us to do. They may well seem small and insignificant in our eyes, but we will never know the full impact of our obedience and service to God in this life.
Stay the path and be faithful in the little things. You just never know what God is up to as He works through you and me.
Written by Shelley Witt
2 Corinthians 13:5-13
5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. 11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.
Nobody likes to be corrected and nobody likes having to correct other people but this is what Paul had to do with the Corinthian church.
This passage is the final words of several letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians regarding the unacceptable behaviour of some of its members. Paul loved the Corinthians and found it hard to bring harsh correction in person so he wrote to them beforehand hoping they would change their behaviour before seeing them.
In verse 5 Paul shares an important principle. ‘Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith’. Possibly a simpler way of putting this would be ‘Examine your own behaviour to see if it is in line with what we believe’. The problem is, unless you practice it regularly self‑examination is not easy and sometimes quite painful.
So why is this important?
Because honest self‑examination is the first step to self-correction (repentance), but here is the interesting part. The love of God treats us in the same way as Paul did with the Corinthians, wanting us to sort out our own wrong doings in private long before any form of public correction is needed.
Dear God, today in my own private prayer space I ask you to bring to my awareness one thing I need to change and by your grace give me the power to change it. Amen.
Written by David Newton
2 Corinthians 13:1-4
13 This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.
The Apostle Paul is preparing to visit the Corinthian church for the 3rd time. On his first visit to Corinth, Paul founded the church and stayed for 18 months. His 2nd visit was short and involved problems within the Corinthian church. And now he is preparing to come for a 3rd time and he is not happy with the reports of what he has heard is going on there.
Paul’s opponents, the leaders among the Corinthian Christians seem to think that Paul is too weak and humble for their liking. They want to see more “power” from Paul. So Paul is warning them here that he is going to come back with the power of God to clean up the church, unless they clean it up before he comes.
Listening to reproofs and rebukes is not easy. Human nature and pride makes us want to do things our own way rather than listen to others. But it’s always better to stop and examine yourself and humble yourself to repentance rather than incur wrath and judgement.
Sometimes in our stubbornness and pride, we choose not to listen to the gentle rebuke and end up bringing a much tougher discipline upon ourselves.
I am reminded today to listen to the correction of those around me and not let it get to the stage where people have to get “tough” with me before I will listen.
Written by Shelley Witt
2 Corinthians 12:11-21
11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong! 14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit? 19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
Wow, what a rebuke the Corinthian church received from the apostle Paul! He did not mince his words. We can see from this passage that the Corinthians didn’t think much of the Apostle Paul in comparison to other apostles. In turn, you can readily sense the Apostle Paul’s frustration and disappointment in this early church. Paul is saddened by their lack of maturity in that he has had to fund all three visits to this church. Nor has Paul seen much evidence of turning from sinful behaviour such as gossiping, pride and sexual immorality.
The positive thing about this passage – yes there is one, is that Paul has not given up on this congregation. It would be so easy to walk away with the lack of respect, paying your own way and sinful behaviour. We see the father heart of God in Paul here. Paul states that he wants “them” not their possessions. He cares about them, otherwise why would he come back three times at his own expense. This is a healthy reminder to us all not to give up on people because God surely doesn’t! God l loves us too much to leave us the way we are, rather, he wants us to become more like Jesus.
Dear Lord, thank you for not giving up on me, thank you for pursing me even when I seem disinterested. Help me not to give up on others but to be patient and persevere. Amen.
Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods
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