Read Through Romans – Day 21

isaiah 45 15

Mysteries can be exciting.  Whether it’s a movie or a book, it’s entertaining to engage in the story by attempting to solve the mystery yourself.  Back in my college days, I watched a mystery movie and shared my thoughts about the outcome halfway through the movie.  My friend, who had watched the movie before, did not reveal the final twist.  And I was delighted to discover my sleuthing skills were correct!  (This is noteworthy only because I’m not known for solving mysteries like this…)

Not all mysteries are solvable.  And that’s not a bad thing, especially when it comes to our Father God.  He is mysterious and we learn more about Him today.  Read Romans 11:11-36.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

Our loving Heavenly Father is mysterious.  Isaiah 45:15 says it well:

Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways.

Maybe you’re wrestling with understanding who God is.  And that’s OK!  Don’t give up!  Ask God to grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation (of insight into mysteries and secrets) in the (deep and intimate) knowledge of Him (Ephesians 1:17 AMP).  Ask Him your questions.  And let Jeremiah 29:11-14 encourage you:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

Come to the feet of Jesus with all your questions, all your burdens… and lay them down.  Jesus wants to take it all from you.  At Your Feet by Casting Crowns encourages you to do this right now.

Read Through Romans – Day 20

want list

My son received the number one item on his “I Want That…” list for his birthday.  And this gift has become a fabulous discipline tool.  When he is disobedient, the first consequence is often not getting to use his gift.  You would think that because he loves it so much, he would be quick to obey.  But that’s not always the case.  And how does he respond when the gift is taken away?  Crocodile tears and anger bubble up because he’s so passionate about playing with it.

On occasion, after the consequence is implemented, he pulls out the grace card with tears in his eyes:  “Mommy, I thought you were going to give me grace…”  Who knew that past teachable moments about grace could become bargaining chips for no consequences in the future?  While the answer is typically “no grace this time,” I am thankful he understands the concept of grace.

God extends grace by giving us things we don’t deserve… like eternal life, instead of eternal separation from Him, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Today’s Romans reading teaches us about God’s grace.  Read Romans 11:1-10.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  •  Read Romans 11:1-6.
  • Read Romans 11:7-10.
    • What do we learn about the Israelites from these verses?
    • The Gospel of John talks about the unbelief of the Israelites too.  Read John 12:37:43.
      • What did Isaiah predict and how did it come true? (John 12:37-41)
      • What caused some who did believe in Jesus to keep quiet?  (John 12:42-43)
      • Reflect on John 12:42-43.  Can you relate to these verses?  If so, ask your Father God to help you be strong and brave, to not be terrified and to not lose hope, for He is the Lord your God and He is with you everywhere you go (Joshua 1:9).  And ask God to give you courage to share the Good News with boldness.
    • Read Acts 28:17-31.
      • How are these verses related to Romans 11:7-10 and John 12:42-43.
      • How did Paul try to persuade the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the Messiah?  (Acts 28:23)
      • What was the response to Paul’s persuasion efforts?  (Acts 28:24)
      • What was Paul’s final word to the Jewish leaders?  (Acts 28:25-28)
      • What can you learn from Paul’s approach to sharing the Gospel?

Today’s song provides a great wrap-up for our Romans reading.  Maybe you’re wrestling with God right now.  Maybe you’re carrying a burden of guilt or shame and feeling like you’re beyond the reach of God.  Maybe you need the reminder from Romans 8 that the powerful Holy Spirit lives inside you.  Or maybe you need to remember Who God is.   You Are I Am by Mercy Me touches on these things and more.  Be encouraged by Romans 8:38-39:

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.   No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You. Are. Loved.

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 19

camera

I received the perfect gift from my hubby this Christmas.  And it was perfect on many levels.  First, he paid attention to a single random conversation in which I expressed my desire for a “real” camera.  Second, I wasn’t expecting it at all.  “Real” cameras aren’t cheap and we typically don’t spend lots of money on gifts for each other at Christmas.  Third, he went above and beyond with the gift.  I not only got a “real” camera, but he also gave me a tripod, carrying case, flash and other accessories so I would have everything I need to start my new hobby.  Needless to say, I was surprised, delighted, and couldn’t wait to tell everyone about this perfect gift.

When was the last time you had great news and you couldn’t wait to share it with others?  Today’s Romans reading reminds us about the importance of sharing the true Good News with others.  Read Romans 10:14-21.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • What is your initial take-away from these verses?
  • Let’s consider the questions that Paul asks in Romans 10:14-15.  We will consider them in reverse order.
    • And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”  Romans 10:15
      • Who do you think should spread the Good News of Jesus?
      • Now read Matthew 28:18-20.
        • When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we become His disciples.  As His disciple, what 3 instructions does Jesus give us in Matthew 28:18-20?
        • How are we able to do this according to Matthew 28:20?
    • Would you describe feet as beautiful?  Why or why  not?
      • Read Isaiah 52:7 and Nahum 1:15.  Why do you think feet are described as beautiful in these verses?
      • Read Ephesians 6:13-17.  What goes on our feet when we wear the armor of God?
      • What five letter word is in all three of these verses?  Why would this be attractive to an unbeliever?
  • And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?  Romans 10:14
    • Are your feet beautiful because you’re telling others about the Good News of Jesus and what He’s done in your life?
    • What holds you back from sharing the Good News?
    • Are you afraid?  Read 2 Timothy 1:7 and Psalm 56:3-4.  What do these verses tell us about being afraid?
    • Do you wonder what you would say?  Read John 14:26.  How does this encourage you?
    • How does 1 Peter 3:13-17 instruct us to share the Good News?  (Review 1 Peter 3:15-16.)
  • And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him?  Romans 10:14
    • Can you think of someone you know that needs to hear about the Good News of Jesus?
    • If you answered yes, take a moment to pray.  Ask God to make you strong and brave.  Ask God to remove your fear and give you hope because He will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).  Ask God to give you wisdom about how and when to share the Good News with this person (James 1:5).  Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of everything He wants you to say (John 14:26).  And ask God to give you words that are gentle and respectful (1 Peter 3:15-16).
  • But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him?  Romans 10:14
    • What needs to happen in order for someone to be saved?  (Review Romans 10:9-10)
    • What does Romans 10:16 tell us about potential responses to the Good News?

Sharing the Good News with others may make you uncomfortable, especially if you are unsure about how the person might respond.  Os Hillman wrote a devotion on Obedience Based Decisions that might remove some of the pressure you feel…

Being led by the Spirit often means we must not use the world’s standard for success as our measuring stick. You never know what an act of obedience will yield at the time. We must leave results to God. Our role is to obey. His role is to bring results from our obedience1.

You are called to be obedient to God by sharing the Good News… and that’s it!  You are not responsible for the outcome.  That is God’s responsibility.  There’s such freedom in  that statement!  The Good News we have to share is better than the camera I got for Christmas… it’s the best gift anyone can receive.  Let’s have beautiful feet and share this Good News without fear!

Here’s a song to encourage you to share Jesus with others:  Yours Will Be (The Only Name) by Big Daddy Weave.

1 Obedience-Based Decisions.  TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1, by Os Hillman  11-30-2012  Today God Is First (TGIF) devotional message, Copyright by Os Hillman, Marketplace Leaders.

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 18

enthusiam jumping

Think about someone who has lots of passion.  What are they passionate about?  How do they display their passion?  Merriam Webster defines passion as  a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.  Passion can be good or bad… wise or misdirected… controlled or out of control.  We can be passionate for family and friends, a sports team, a hobby and/or a cause we strongly believe in.  We can share our passion with others or keep it to ourselves. Are you a passionate person?  What are you passionate about?

Today’s Romans reading reveals how passion can be misdirected.  Read Romans 10:1-13.

Here are some questions for you to consider.

  • Read Romans 10:1-4.  Summarize what these verses tell us about the people of Israel.
  • Read Romans 10:2-3.
    • Did you know that Paul, the author of Romans, was originally a Jew that was enthusiastic for God, but with misdirected zeal?  Find out more in Acts 22:1-23.
      • What did you learn about Paul from these verses?
      • How does this information help you understand Paul’s heart for the people of Israel (the Jews)?
    • The Israelites refused to accept God’s way and clung to their own ways of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.    Have you ever tried to get right with God by following the rules?   Do you think you have to be perfect in order for God to love you?  What does Romans 5:8 tell us?  How does this encourage you?
    • Read Romans 10:4.  How are we made right with God?
    • Read Romans 10:8-13?
      • What steps do you take to be saved according to Romans 10:9-11?
      • How would you explain Romans 10:9-11 to someone who has not accepted Jesus as his/her Lord and Savior?
      • Read Ephesians 2:1-10.  Think about how God has made a difference in your life.  How has He been faithful to you?  How has He transformed you?  What personal examples could you add to your explanation of Romans 10:9-11?
      • Have you taken these steps to be saved?  If you need more information on this, check out Romans Road, which provides the pathway to salvation.

Maybe you need some encouragement today.  Jesus invites us to come to Him and receive rest in Matthew 11:28-30 AMP:

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [a]ease and relieve and [b]refresh [c]your souls.]

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([d]relief and ease and refreshment and [e]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, [f]good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

I love how these verses invite me to come just as I am, with all my mess, my weariness, and burdens.  And in exchange for this junk, Jesus offers rest, relief and refreshment!  How loved we are!  City Harbor’s song, Come However You Are, ties in perfectly with Matthew 11:28-30.  Leave your burdens at the cross and come receive Jesus’ rest today.

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 17

question mark

I have to confess that I don’t understand God’s plans sometimes.  I wonder if you feel the same way.  The Bible clearly tells us that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, and it can be hard to wrap our minds around His plans for us, especially when those plans include suffering and pain.  Our “why” questions can tempt us to doubt God.  In the midst of our circumstances, we have a choice… to run to God, or to run away from God.  Do we trust Him, even when His plans don’t make sense to us?  Proverbs 3:5 NLT convicts me:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Look at the Amplified version of Proverbs 3:5:

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

How often am I tempted to doubt God just because I don’t understand?  You too?  Today’s Romans reading reveals more about God’s character.  Ask God to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so you can know Him better as you study Romans 9:14-33.

Here’s some questions for you to consider:

 And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God.

God is the same today as He was in the Bible.  He still causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  Maybe you need a modern example of God working pain and suffering for good…

Kristen Sauder was a woman who loved the Lord, her husband and her family.  She had a thriving ministry and was a bright light for Jesus.  About a year ago, Kristen was diagnosed with cancer.  And while many prayers were offered for her healing, Kristen lost her battle with cancer at the age of 45.  In this vulnerable blog post by Kristen’s husband, Kurt, we get a glimpse of the Sauder family asking why.  We see Kurt running to God.  And we witness God working all things together for the good of those who love Him.  I love how God chose to bless the Sauder family with a peek under the tent of His plans for Kristen’s ministry – even after she is living in heaven with her Heavenly Father.

You see, we don’t see the big picture that God sees.  We see the present, God sees the future.  We see chaos, God sees the masterpiece.  Take a moment to listen to Already There by Casting Crowns and rest in the truth that this song offers:  Your Heavenly Father is already there.  The ending is not a mystery to Him.  He is at work.  Will you choose to trust Him today?

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 16

sword of spirit word of God

Have you ever used a sword?  While I’ve had an occasional sword fight with my sons, I’m not an experienced sword fighter.  (Note that we used plastic swords, not real ones!)  However, I’m learning to wield a different sword… a sword that’s much more powerful than the plastic ones I use with my sons.  It’s called the sword of the spirit, a.k.a. the word of God.  This sword was used in the Bible by Jesus and Paul, among others, and we can use that same sword today.  The sword fighting lessons are free… all it requires is for you to spend some time in God’s word.  And if you take it a step farther by memorizing scripture, God’s truth is written on your heart and helps you not sin.  I know, memorizing scripture can seem intimidating… but the reward is great.  If you need some encouragement to memorize scripture, then this quote from Chuck Swindoll is just for you:

“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.” 1

Before digging into Romans today, take a moment and listen to Word of God Speak by Mercy Me.

Read Romans 9:1-13.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • What do you learn about Paul from Romans 9:2-3?
  • How did the Jews (the people of Israel) encounter God according to Romans 9:4-5?
    • Read Ephesians 1:17-20.  How can we encounter God according to these verses?
    • Have you experienced God as Ephesians 1:17-20 describes?  If so, take a moment to reflect on the encounter and thank God for revealing Himself to you in an intimate and personal way.  If not, ask God to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so you can know Him better (Ephesians 1;17 NLT).
  • How does Paul support his position that “Being a descendant of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children?”  (See Romans 9:7b for the answer).
    • Jesus used Scripture too, just like Paul.  Read Matthew 4:1-11.  How did Jesus resist the devil?
    • Read Mark 14:26-28.  How did Jesus use the Scriptures here?
    • How is the word of God (or Scriptures) described in Ephesians 4:16-18?
    • How does Hebrews 4:12 describe the word of God?
    • How can you use the Scriptures to resist the devil and share truth with others?
  • What do we learn about God from Romans 9:11-12?
    • Jeremiah 29:10-14 gives us some additional insight into the character of God.  What do these verses tell us about God?
    • What is your reaction to Romans 9:11-12 and Jeremiah 29:10-14?

Let Zephaniah 3:17 encourage you as we wrap up:

The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.

 Your Father God adores you and longs for you to know how loved you are.  Rest in His love for you today!

1 (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], p. 61).

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 15

hope

Hope is a fragile thing because it’s driven by expectations.  If you have high expectations, and your expectations aren’t met, you can become disappointed, or even devastated at times.  Trust me, I know this from experience.  My husband and I planned a special trip to a resort that was known for its service.  TripAdvisor reviews touted praise for the service over and over again.  (Not that I was reading the reviews every few weeks because I was so excited…)  My expectations were sky high and I was confident that we would have the best service ever when we arrived.  Except we didn’t.  Yep, instead of receiving the best service ever, we received mediocre service at best.  To say I was devastated is an understatement.  And unfortunately, I allowed my unmet expectations distract me from the fabulous parts of our vacation.  The entire vacation, from my perspective, was overshadowed by the mediocre service.  Like I said, hope is a fragile thing…

Hoping in God is different because God does what He says He will do.  God is faithfulHe keeps His promises.  And today we uncover some reasons we can hope in God.  Read Romans 8:14-39.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  • How are those led by the Spirit of God described in Romans 8:14-17?
  • Romans 8:17 paints a realistic picture of the Christian life.  What does this verse tell us?
    • Read Mark 14:32-42.  What is Jesus communicating with His Abba Father?
    • How does Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane give us some realistic expectations for our Christian walk?
    • How does Mark 14:32-42 align with Romans 8:14-17?
    • Read John 16:33.  Why can we have hope in the midst of our suffering and trials?
  • Read Romans 8:18-25.  What is the theme of these verses?
  • Why should we have hope according to Romans 8:18-25?  (Review verses 20-21, 23-25.)
  • Romans 8:24-25 says:  We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)  And Psalm 27:14 says: Wait patiently for the Lord.  Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
      • What characteristic of hope is described in these verses?
      • Is there something you need to wait patiently for?  Are you losing hope because it’s not happening in your timing?  Ask God right now to help you wait patiently for Him.  Ask God to fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so you can overflow with confident hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).  And thank God that His Spirit will help you every step of the way (Romans 8:26)!
    • Read Romans 8:26-27.
      • What do you learn about the Holy Spirit from these verses?
      • How does this make you feel?
    • Romans 8:28 says:  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
      • Write this verse in your own words.
      • Do you believe this?  Why or why not?
      • How would your faith walk be different if you truly believed that God worked EVERYTHING together for the good of those who love Him?
    • Read Romans 8:31-34. How is Jesus described in verse 34?  What is your reaction to this?
    • According to Romans 8:35-39, what can separate us from God’s love?
      • What things might tempt us to think we are separated from God’s love (verse 35)?  How should we respond when we’re tempted to think God doesn’t love us (verse 37)?
      • Review Romans 8:38-39.  Which “neither” resonates most with you and why?
      • Why should we have hope according to Romans 8:35-39?  (Check out verse 39 for the answer.)

Romans 8 is filled with hope.  Here’s a few truths believers in Christ can cling to from Romans 8:  We don’t have to fight sin on our own because the power of the Holy Spirit helps us put to death the deeds of our sinful natureWe are children of God and His heirsBetter things are coming… we just have to patiently wait for God’s perfect timingThe Holy Spirit prays on our behalf when we don’t know what to prayWe can trust God, no matter what our circumstances are, because God works all things for goodAnd nothing can separate us from God’s love!

Nothing can separate you from God’s love.  Satan may whisper lies to tempt you to doubt God’s love… but don’t believe those lies.  Instead, sing this song at the top of your lungs the next time Satan whispers “God won’t love you after that…”  The song is called Nothing  Ever (Can Separate Us) by Citizen Way.

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 14

ive got the power

Have you ever seen the movie Bruce Almighty?  It’s the story of Bruce Nolan, a TV newscaster who encounters much suffering in a short period of time.  Downcast and frustrated, he ends up in a building where he meets The Big Guy Upstairs.  And during this meeting, Bruce receives all the divine powers to see if he can run things any better.  Bruce tries out his new powers to the tune “I’ve Got the Power” by Snap. (‘90s flashback anyone?)  While I’ve Got the Power is playing, Bruce walks on water, points his fingers at a fire hydrant and the water pours out, and changes from his normal outfit into a more stylish one he sees in a window display… just by using his mind.

Today’s Romans reading could be titled “We’ve Got the Power!”  The question is, do we tap into this amazing power we have?  Read Romans 8:1-13.

Here’s some questions for you to consider:

  • What theme(s) did you notice in Romans 8:1-13?  (Need a hint?  Look for words that repeat.)
  • How does it make you feel to know that “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus”?  (Need a refresher on condemnation?  Click here.)
  • What do you learn about the Holy Spirit from Romans 8:1-13 ? (Review verses 2, 4, 5, 6, 9-11, and 13).
  • Read Romans 8:3-4.  What characteristics of God are displayed in these verses?
  • Read Romans 8:5-8.  Compare the mind of flesh to the mind of the Spirit.
    • How can you tell if your mind is governed by the Spirit? (Romans 8:6)
    • Is your mind controlled by the flesh or the Spirit?  If your mind is controlled by the flesh, take a moment right now and ask God to help you take your thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
  • What are we controlled by if we have the Spirit of God living in us (Romans 8:9)?
  • Why should we have hope according to Romans 8:12-13?
  • What is your reaction to this:  But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live (Romans 8:13)?
    • Do we have to “put to death the deeds of the our sinful nature” by ourselves?
    • How are the deeds of sinful nature put to death?
    • How does this make you feel?
  • The power of the Spirit is mentioned two times in Romans 8:1-13 (verse 2 and 13).  Check out these verses, which also highlight the power of the Holy Spirit, and describe what you discover.
    • This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18)
    • But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
    • And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)
    • The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line,  and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:3-4)
    • I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
    • And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:4)
  • Which characteristic(s) of the Holy Spirit are most meaningful to you?  Why?

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit… the POWERFUL Holy Spirit that helps us “put to death the deeds of our sinful nature.”  This is incredible news!  We don’t have to stop sinning on our own!!  We can tap into the power of the Holy Spirit.  We can ask God to help us resist the devil so he will flee from us.  We can pray for God to show us the way out of temptation that He promises to provide.  And consider this verse as a morning prayer:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.  Psalm 51:12 (NLT)

I love how this verse says “make me willing to obey you.”  It’s almost as if the Psalmist is saying, “Father God, I know I’m a sinner and I can’t obey on my own.  Will you make me obey?”

Ephesians 1:19-20 (NLT) is my prayer for you today:

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power  that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.

Tap into the powerful Holy Spirit and follow where the Spirit leads.  Surrender to your Heavenly Father by yoking up with Jesus.  And let Lift My Life Up by Unspoken remind you to let God have His way in you today.

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 13

dessert buffetI

Can you think of a time when you did something even though you RESOLVED not to do it?  Let’s imagine your New Year’s resolution was to eat healthy and you’re doing great.  As you leave to attend a party, you are confident in your ability to withstand your biggest temptation… dun, dun, DUH… the dessert table.  You are convinced that you will NOT eat any dessert.  Maybe you were good for a while, but in a moment of weakness, you noticed that your all-time favorite dessert is sitting there, calling your name.  You turn away… even leave the room.  But now the picture of that dessert fills your mind.  While you’re chatting with friends, you imagine what just one bite would taste like.  Your thoughts are in a battle… one bite won’t hurt… don’t eat it, you’re stronger than this… you’ve eaten so healthy all week, you deserve a treat…don’t give in because you’ll feel guilty if you do.  What do you do?

Today’s Romans reading talks about how we struggle with sin.  We do what we don’t want to do.  And Paul, who is such a man of faith, struggled with this just like we do.  (Insert a huge sigh of relief right here).  Go ahead and read Romans 7.

Here’s some questions for you to consider:

  1. Read Romans 7:4.  What is the good news from this verse?  How does this encourage you?
  2. How do we serve God according to Romans 7:6?
  3. Read Matthew 12:1-7.  Who is living by the letter of the law and who is living by the Spirit?
    1. What does obeying the letter of the law look like?
    2. How would you describe living in the Spirit?  (John 14:26)
    3. Read Romans 7:14-20.  How can you relate to these verses?  Think about a specific time where you did what you didn’t want to do.  How did you feel?  What was the outcome?
    4. Read Romans 7:21-25.  Where is the war taking place?
      1. How can we take control of our mind?  Check out these verses:  2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Philippians 4:8.
      2. What hope do we have according to verses 24-25?

Take a moment to thank your Father God for the hope that Jesus gives you.  You are not a slave to sin when you accept Him as your Lord and Savior!  There’s more hope to come tomorrow… but until then, listen to The Well by Casting Crowns.  Accept the invitation to “Come to the well.”  Leave all your sin behind… including the sin that you willingly choose and the sin that you put on even though you don’t want to.  Leave your sin at the cross.  Lay down your heavy burdens and exchange it for Jesus’ light and easy yoke!  Remember you are God’s treasured possession!

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 12

freedome to slavery

After studying Romans 6, it was time to get ready for the day.  I turned on Pandora radio and was intrigued by the first song because I never heard before.  And when I read the title, I knew the song was perfect for today’s Romans reading.  It actually made me smile… God knew just the song we needed to hear!  It’s called Freedom into Slavery by Anthem Lights.

Now, take a moment to watch the story behind the song.

Guess what our Romans reading is about today?  You got it… the struggle between choosing the yoke of sin or the yoke of Jesus.  God allows us to choose and we can so easily turn our freedom into slavery.  Go ahead and read Romans 6:15-23.

Here’s some questions for you to consider:

  • Read Romans 6:1-2 and Romans 6:15-16.  What do these verses tell us?
  • Romans 6:16 says:  Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.
    • What two options do we have according to this verse?
    • What is the outcome of being a slave to sin?
    • What is the outcome of obeying God?
    • Did you notice the six letter word that starts with the letter “c”?  We choose.  What are you choosing to obey?
    • Describe what choosing to obey God means.
  • In John 14:15, Jesus says “If you love me, obey my commandments.”  What does obedience to God demonstrate?
  • Read Matthew 22:35-40.  What are the greatest commandments according to Jesus?
  • Read Romans 6:17-18.  How would you define righteous living?  Check out these verses for some insight:  Colossians 3:12-17, James 4:6-7, and Ephesians 4:1-3.
  • What happens when we become slaves to righteous living (Romans 6:19)?
  • Read Romans 6:20-23.  We can be a slave to sin or to God.
  • What changes do you need to make to move towards righteous living (Romans 6:18)?

We all choose to turn our freedom into slavery from time to time.  I’m so incredibly thankful for the characteristics of God that we defined above.  And I’m also thankful for Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT.  (Note that the High Priest refers to Jesus.):

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Take a moment right now to come boldly before the throne of your gracious God.  Thank Him for being a loving Master.  Repent of your sins.  Ask Him to help you overcome the strongholds/sins that are enslaving you.  Choose to put on the yoke of Jesus and receive His rest.