Read Through Romans – Day 11

bw color balloons

My husband and I ate at the most interesting restaurant while vacationing.  At the beginning of dinner, the restaurant was completely black and white.  As each course was served, the restaurant transformed.  Color was introduced slowly and by the end of dinner, the room was beautiful.  The cold black and white morphed into a beautiful palate of rainbow colors.  The contrast from start to finish was quite dramatic.

Today’s Romans reading is about contrast too.  Take a moment to read Romans 6:1-14.

Here’s some questions for you to consider:

  1. What is Paul pointing out in Romans 6:1-2?
  2. Read Romans 6:6.  Now read this out loud:  We are no longer slaves to sin.  How does this make you feel?
  3. Read Romans 6:7.  Do you live like you’re set free from the power of sin or do you live like you’re controlled by sin?
  4. How can Romans 6:7 change your thinking about the power of sin in your life?
  5. Why did Christ die?  Check out Romans 6:10 for the answer.
  6. Read Romans 6:12-14.  What are these verses telling you?
  7. Romans 6:14 says:  Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
    • Describe what it looks like/feels like to live under the requirements of the law.
    • Describe what living under God’s grace looks/feels like.
    • What are the benefits of living under God’s grace instead of the law?
    • Where are you living – under the requirements of the law or under the freedom of God’s grace?  If you need to move under the freedom of God’s grace, what steps can you take to make this happen?

Remember Galatians 5:1:  So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.  We get to choose which yoke we wear… the yoke of sin or the yoke of Jesus.  Need a refresher on the benefits of choosing the yoke of Jesus?  Matthew 11:28-30 AMP beautifully contrasts the harshness of sin’s yoke with the easiness of Jesus’ yoke.

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. 

And let Galatians 5:13 encourage you:   For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.  How can you serve someone in love today?

Hang onto the promises of God’s word and don’t let Satan’s lies and attacks shake you.  We Won’t Be Shaken by Building 429 encourages us to trust in God… all the time.  Choose to trust.  Your Father God loves you so much!

Read Through Romans – Day 10

christmas tree

My two boys LOVE to receive gifts.  They LOVE it.  And it’s delightful to watch them open gifts and celebrate what’s inside.  However, one Christmas, things did not go how this momma planned.  At the time, we had one child and by Christmas day, many presents were already received from other family members.  My hubby and I were excited to watch our son open the gifts we chose just for him.  Imagine my surprise… and disappointment… when he only opened a few presents on Christmas morning.  He was delighted with the presents he already received and wanted to play with them, rather than open new ones.  No amount of encouragement from his daddy and me could make him change his mind.  He made his decision.  And so, the presents sat under the tree for the next several days.  Eventually, he opened them all.  Needless to say, that Christmas did NOT turn out how I expected it to…

I have to confess, I was one sad momma.  I love giving gifts and couldn’t wait to see my son’s delight when he opened his presents on Christmas morning.  I had to patiently wait until he was ready.  And I had to be OK with the fact that he might not choose to open them.  It was his decision to make.

Our Romans reading today gives us more insight into the value of the free gift God invites us to receive.  Read Romans 5:12-21.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  1. What is the consequence of Adam’s sin?  (Romans 5:12)
  2. What is the difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift?  (Romans 5:15-16)
  3. What happens to all who receive God’s wonderful grace and gift of righteousness?  (Romans 5:17)
  4. Summarize Romans 5:19 in one sentence.
  5. Why was God’s law given? (Romans 5:20)
  6. What is the good news in Romans 5:20?  Why is this such good news for us?

It’s incredible to think that there’s no limit to God’s grace.  Grace increases as our sin increases!  Phillip Yancey defines grace this way in his book “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”:  “There is nothing we can do to make God love us more.  There is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”  God’s grace is truly greater than all our sin.  Take a moment to listen to Grace that Is Greater by Building 429.  Then thank God for His amazing grace.

  • What is the outcome of us receiving God’s wonderful grace?  (Romans 5:21)
  • Why do you thing God’s grace is described as a free gift?
  • Have you opened God’s free gift of grace?  If yes, celebrate this!  If no, what is holding you back?

We have to choose to open God’s free gift of grace.  It’s beautifully wrapped with your name on it.  All you have to do is open it.  But God, being the gentleman that He is, won’t force you to open the gift.  It’s your decision to make.  It will stay under the Christmas tree until you’re ready.  Your Father God is excitedly waiting for you to open it when you’re ready.

The song, Times by 10th Avenue North, gives us a snapshot of God’s intimate love and amazing grace.  Take a moment to listen here.

Maybe you don’t know enough about this gift of grace yet.  Maybe you need more information before you decide to open it.  Romans provides you with the roadmap for this decision1.

First, you have to realize you are a sinner.  Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Because we are all sinners, God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins.  God did this because He loved you and me so much.

Second, it’s important for you to know that God loves YOU!  Romans 5:8 says “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”  There is no greater love than someone laying down their life for a friend and that’s exactly what Christ did for us!  How incredible is that?

Third, recognize that without Jesus, you’re literally doomed.  Romans 6:23 describes it this way:  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Because of our sin, we deserve death.  But our Father God gives us an alternative to death:  eternal life through Christ.  And this alternative is a free gift…with your name on it!  You don’t have to work for it or earn it.  You just have to choose to open it!

Fourth, you need to confess your sins.  Romans 10:9-10, 13 explains:   If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved…  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It’s that simple!  All that’s required to open this free gift from your Heavenly Father is invite Jesus into your heart.  And that simple prayer will save you from the eternal pits of Hell.

If you are ready to open this gift right now because you believe everything you just read, here is a sample prayer you can pray to receive God’s free gift:

Dear Jesus, I KNOW I am a sinner.  I know that you were sent by God to die on the cross to save me from my sins.  I ask you to please forgive me for the sins I have committed.  I want you to live in my heart.  Thank you for dying on the cross for me.  From this day forward, I will follow your will and serve you.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

If you just prayed this prayer, welcome to the kingdom of God!   You are now adopted into God’s family!  And that is something to celebrate!  Please let someone know about your decision.  And finding a Bible-believing church in your area can provide you with a support system to encourage you in your walk with Jesus.  We are so excited to have you as part of the family!

1 Romans Road adapted from Pastor Buddy Howard’s How to lead a person to Christ handout.

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 9

challenges ahead

How do you respond when you face a challenging situation?  Do you worry and fear what the future holds?  Do you get angry and lash out?  Do you trust in God and pray about your circumstances, choosing to believe Romans 8:28:  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?  I find myself waffling between these three options when I face a tough situation.  I might worry and be afraid at first.  Then I might get angry because hey, I didn’t sign up for this!  And then, after some processing, I might choose to trust in God, whose ways aren’t my ways and whose thoughts aren’t my thoughts.  It’s during these challenging situations that it’s SO important to KNOW who God really is.  If we believe God is who He says He is, as documented in the Bible, it’s much easier to trust Him.

Today, our Romans reading gives us some tips on how to change our thinking when it comes to challenging situations.  Read Romans 5:1-11.

Here’s some questions for you to consider:

  1. What are the benefits of being made right in God’s sight by faith?  Check out Romans 5:1-2 for the answer.
  2. Do you display peace, confidence and joy as described in Romans 5:1-2?  Why or why not?
  3. Read Romans 5:3-5.  Why can we rejoice in problems and trials?  (You’re looking for three reasons).
  4. Romans isn’t the only book of the Bible that talks about rejoicing in trials.  Read James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 1:6-7.  What did you learn about the benefits of trails from these verses?
  5. How does this information change your perspective about the trials you endure?
  6. Read Romans 5:5 and Romans 5:8-9.  What character trait of God is listed in these verses?  How does God display it?
  7. How does Romans 5:10-11 describe our relationship with God?
  8. Read James 4:4-9.
    • Who else can we befriend based on these verses?
    • What is the result of friendship with the world (James 4:4)?
    • How can we return to friendship with God if we’ve taken on the yoke of sin again? (James 4:6-8)
    • Are you a friend of God or the world?  If you’re a friend of the world, take a moment right now to humble yourself and repent.  Remember God is earnestly waiting to be gracious to you!

Wrap up today by rejoicing in your wonderful new relationship with God… you are a friend of God (Romans 5:11)!  Take a moment to thank Him for His incredible love… a love that was displayed by sending Christ to die for you… for me… while we were still sinners.  We can only begin to grasp Ephesians 3:18:  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

And in case you need a reminder that you are loved by God, let Remind Me Who I Am by Jason Gray speak truth to you today:  You are God’s beloved!

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 8

free gift

While scrolling through Twitter one day, I came across a tweet from Margaret Feinberg that invited people to submit a Harlem Shake video in order to win her Wonderstruck Bible Study.  Since Wonderstruck was one of the Bible Studies slated for our church in 2013, I forwarded the tweet to our Women’s Ministry Bible Study leader, kinda tongue in cheek, saying here’s how we can win this Bible Study.  Neither one of us expected it to happen.

During Staff Meeting the next week, the youth minister mentioned that he was filming a Harlem Shake video with our elementary kiddos and I took that as my sign to pitch the idea of filming a church wide Harlem Shake video to win Wonderstruck.  After a brief discussion, our pastor said yes, the youth minister agreed to film it, and the date was set.  Everything fell into place.

Guess what?  We won!  You can check out our Grand Prize winning entry here.

God did immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine by allowing us to win this Bible Study.  It was a free gift from our Heavenly Father and we were so thankful.

Today we are going to learn more about a free gift from our Heavenly Father.  Take a moment and read Romans 4:13-25.

Here’s some questions for you to consider:

  • List two things that jumped out at you after reading these verses.
  • Why did God promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants?  (Romans 4:13 and Romans 4:16)
  • How is the promise given?  (Romans 4:16)
  • How would you define “free gift”?  How does it feel to know that being made right with God is a free gift?
  • Read Romans 4:18-20.
    • Verse 18 says “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping – believing that he would become the father of many nations.”  Why do you think Abraham had no reason for hope?  (Romans 4:19)
    • Read Genesis 15:15-22 to learn more about God’s promise to Abraham.  What was Abraham’s initial reaction to God’s promise of a son?  (Genesis 17:17)

I have to confess that I let out a HUGE sigh of relief after reading Genesis 15:15-22.  Why?  Because Abraham is the Father of Faith… and yet his faith wasn’t without moments of “little faith.”  Little faith is defined as little faith regarding a specific event rather an ongoing and permanent failure to believe 1. This encourages me, because I know that I’m a woman of little faith too.  We aren’t alone when it comes to “little faith.”  Jesus’ disciples had little faith… and they spent three years learning from Jesus himself!

  • Check out Peter’s example of little faith here.  Peter had faith initially, then doubted when he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the surroundings.  Think about a time where you waffled between faith and little faith.  Where did you end up… trusting God again or doubting God?  Explain.
  • Abraham chose to believe after his moment of little faith.  Think about a time when you were like Abraham… where you had no reason for hope, but kept hoping and believing that God would be faithful.  How did that impact your outlook and perspective?  If you’ve never chosen hope over doubt, ask God to help you apply Proverbs 3:5-6 in your life:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
 

  • Read Romans 4:20-21.  Are you fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises?  Why or why not?
  • Read Romans 4:23-25.  How does studying Abraham’s faith benefit you in your faith journey?

I think one of Satan’s weapons is to tempt us to lose hope.  Can’t you hear Satan whispering this to Abraham?  “I mean, come on, Abraham.  There’s NO WAY you are gonna have another son.  How is that possible?  You’re 100 years old… Sarai is barren and 90 years old.  You can’t trust God.”  Satan is the father of lies and he loves it when we doubt God.  And you want to know how we defeat the lies of Satan?  Check out these verses from Ephesians 6:16-17:

16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[a] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Do you see the link, ladies?  The shield of faith stops the fiery arrows of the devil!!!  Picture each lie as a fiery arrow aimed at your heart.  Now picture your shield of faith protecting you… extinguishing each lie one by one!  Is there any picture more beautiful?  No wonder Satan wants us to doubt God!  Satan knows that when we trust our Heavenly Father, he doesn’t stand a chance.

And how do we trust God more?  By studying His Word, memorizing scripture and pressing into KNOWING Him.  Let’s press on to hide God’s Word in our heart, that we might not sin against Him.  Let’s use our sword of the Spirit with confidence and defeat Satan’s lies with God’s truth.  Let’s choose to trust God, moment by moment.

Let A Way to See in the Dark by Jason Gray encourage you to live out the definition of faith each day:  Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1 NLT). 

1  NLT Study Bible.  (2008).  Little Faith Study Note on Matthew 6:30 (p. 1589).  Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 7

hug

This morning, I felt like I received a big hug from God.  Why, you ask?  Because the songs that played on the radio were exactly what I needed to hear.  The songs reminded me to surrender and that I’m beautiful.  God’s love for each one of us is so intentional… do you see His divine fingerprints in your life?  If not, ask Him to show you His love in a very real and personal way today.  Remember, James tells us we do not have because we do not ask.  Invite God to open your eyes to His presence.  Here’s a verse you can pray:

Ephesians 1:17 (AMP)

17 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,

The surrender song I heard this morning can be a powerful prayer for each one of us… if we are willing to pray it.   It’s called Keep Making Me by Sidewalk Prophets.  Take a moment to listen to this before we dig into Romans 4.

Isn’t it refreshing to know that God can keep making us?  I love that God promises He can make all things new.  Will you let Him make you new?

Today’s Romans reading focuses on Abraham’s faith.  Remember that Hebrews 11:1 defines faith like this:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Take a moment and read Romans 4:1-12.

Here are some questions for you to consider:

  1. What made Abraham right with God?  (Romans 4:2-3)
  2. How did David describe being declared righteous without working for it?  (Romans 4:6-8)
  3. Read Psalm 32.  (This is the Psalm that Paul, the author of Romans, is quoting in Romans 4:7-8.)  What did you learn from this Psalm?
  4. How does the fact that we are made right with God through faith protect us from boasting and pride?  (Romans 3:27-28 and Romans 4:2-3)
  5. What characteristic of God is described in Romans 4:5?

Take a moment to read the following translations of Romans 4:5.

Romans 4:5 (CEV)

But you cannot make God accept you because of something you do. God accepts sinners only because they have faith in him.

Romans 4:5 (ERV)

But people cannot do any work that will make them right with God. So they must trust in him. Then he accepts their faith, and that makes them right with him. He is the one who makes even evil people right.

Romans 4:4-5 (MSG)

4-5 If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.

Romans 4:5 (NIRV)

But things are different with God. He makes evil people right with himself. If people trust in him, their faith is accepted even though they do not work. Their faith makes them right with God.

  • How do these verses make you feel?
  • Do you believe Romans 4:5?  Why or why not?

Do you see how much God loves you?  He desires you to KNOW Him.  He longs for you to have an intimate relationship with Him.  Let these words from Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT) encourage you to keep seeking Him each day.

17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

©2014

Read Through Romans – Day 6

ever after

Ever After is one of my favorite movies.  It’s a different spin on the Cinderella story.  A large portion of the movie is dismal.  Danielle’s  (aka Cinderella) father unexpectedly passes away, leaving her entrusted to a cold step-mother who shows her no love.  Danielle’s life is transformed in an instant.  Her life of love and joy died with her father.  Debt covers Danielle’s estate.  Her beloved servant is sold and she goes on a rescue mission that introduces her to the prince.  There is a moment of hope as glimmers of romance spark between Danielle and the prince, but Danielle’s dishonesty about her true identity threatens to destroy her chances with the prince.  Is there any hope for Danielle to find love and joy again?

I wonder if a question like this came to mind as you’ve read the first three chapters of Romans.  Is there any hope for us?  We’ve learned a lot about sin.  It might appear that there’s no hope for us.  But the climax of the story is upon us.

The prince in Ever After received wisdom from Michelangelo.  He chose to forgive Danielle and sets out to rescue her.  The prince and Danielle marry, the step-mother and step-sister are punished and Danielle and the prince live happily ever after.   We have hope for a happily ever after too.  And our next section in Romans introduces us to hope.

Read Romans 3:21-31.

Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Who showed us how to be made right with God?  Check out Romans 3:21 for the answer.
  2. How are we made right with God?  Read these three verses for the answer:  Romans 3:22 and Romans 3:25 – 26.
  3. Who can be made right with God?  Find the answer in Romans 3:22-23.
  4. What is your reaction to these verses?
  5. How is God’s character defined in this section of Romans (Romans 3:24-26)?
  6. Read Romans 3:27-31.  What two things can we learn from these verses (Romans 3:27-28 and Romans 3:31)?

Faith is a key word in Romans 3:21-31.  Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 

If you’re unsure about what faith looks like, take a moment to read Hebrews 11.  It’s filled with examples of Bible characters that displayed faith even when circumstances seemed impossible.

Struggling to find hope today?  Let the song Nothing is Wasted by Jason Gray encourage you.  And cling to Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes everything to work together[a] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 5

not perfect

I have some truth to share today.  And you may not like it… or it could be the best news you’ve heard in a while.  Are you ready?  You aren’t perfect.  Yep, you read it correctly.  You’re not perfect and neither am I.  As much as I try to be a rule follower and do all the right things, I mess up.  I sin.  I live out Romans 3:23: “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”  I sin every day… multiple times.  What about you?

Today, our Romans reading is tough.  It focuses on just how sinful we are.  But keep in mind that in spite of our sin, there is hope… all because of Jesus.  God knew we weren’t perfect so He had a plan to set us free from our sin and shame.  John 3:16 reminds us of this truth:

John 3:16 (AMP)

16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([a]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

Take a moment and read Romans 3:1-20.

Here are some questions to consider:

  1. Summarize what these verses tell us.
  2. How is God’s character revealed in these verses?  Review Romans 3:3-4 and Romans 3:6.
  3. Romans 3:9-18 explains how we can wear the yoke of sin.  List the sins covered in these verses.
  4. What is the purpose of the law according to Romans 3:19-20.
  5. Read Psalm 36:1-2.  Have you experienced the whispers of sin in your heart and chose the sin yoke lately?  If so, what led you to this decision?
  6. Now for some hope. Read 1 John 1:8-10 and 2:1-2 (NLT) below.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

2 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

These verses remind us that God forgives when we confess our sins to Him.  And I love the picture of Jesus, who is sitting at the right hand of God, advocating for us… pleading our case before the Father.  That’s how loved you are!

So as we wrap up on Romans 3:1-20 today, remember that you are not without hope.  There is good news coming.  Need some good news right now?  Go ahead and take a sneak peek at tomorrow’s reading:  Romans 3:21-31.

I wonder if you can relate to the lyrics of today’s Surrender Song –  All You Ever Wanted by Casting Crowns.   I know I can!  Let the lyrics remind you that you are free, dear friends!  Let’s stop living off of how we feel and start standing on His truth revealed because Jesus is our Strength and Shield and He will never fail us.

© 2014

Read Through Romans – Day 4

seven layer salad

Are you a rule follower?  I am.  My hubby and I were just laughing about how extreme my rule following tendencies can be.  I made a salad once while we were dating, and the recipe called for ¾ cup of green peppers.  Being the rule follower that I am, I measured out the exact amount of peppers and dumped it into the salad.  What happened next shocked me…  my soon-to-be hubby took the remaining peppers and dumped them into the dish!  I was mortified and scolded him… I mean, it only called for ¾ cup, right?  How could we add more?  Extreme response, I know.  Did the extra peppers ruin the recipe?  Absolutely not.  But in my mind, we couldn’t add more peppers because that’s not following the recipe.  This is just one, tiny example of my rule following nature.  I wonder… are you a rule follower like me?

Our Romans reading for today touches on the rule following nature of the Jews.  Take a moment and read Romans 2:17-29.

Here are some questions to consider:

  1. What is the theme of these verses?
  2. Read verse 29 again.  What is the difference between someone who merely obeys the letter of the law and someone who has a heart changed by God’s Spirit?
  3. Are you are rule follower, merely obeying the letter of the law, or do you have a heart changed by God’s Spirit?  Why did you answer this way?
  4. How does your answer to number 3 impact your relationship with God?
  5. The Bible says we do not have because we do not ask.  Would you like to have a heart changed by God’s Spirit?  Invite Him to change your heart right now.  Here’s some verses you can pray daily:

Father God, please give me a singleness of heart and put a new spirit within me. Take away my stony, stubborn heart and give me a tender, responsive heart, so I will obey Your decrees and regulations. Then I will truly be Your child, and You will be my God. (Ezekiel 11:19-20 NLT)  And please create a pure heart in me, Father God.  Give me a new spirit that is faithful to you.  (Psalm 51:10 NIRV)  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Surrender your heart to God and let Him transform you as you renew your mind with His truth.

And here’s a surrender song for today:  Middle of Your Heart by for King and Country.  Let the lyrics remind you to let go of your worries and put on the light and easy yoke of Jesus.

©2014

Read Through Romans – Day 3

icy trees sunshine

What a difference the sunshine makes!  While I thought the ice covered trees were beautiful under the cloud covered sky, I discovered they were stunning in the sunlight.  The ice glistens and sparkles like precious gems.  And I also noticed that the icy burdens got lighter in the sun as its heat turned the hard covering into liquid tears… something similar to tears of joy as the burden was being lifted?  Like the icy trees sparkling in the sun, when you take off the heavy burden of your sin and put on the light and easy yoke of Jesus, you became more stunning as your sin, fear and worry are transformed into hope, joy and peace.  You are set free!

While you are free, the battle isn’t over.  Satan wants nothing more than to steal your freedom, joy, hope and peace.  In fact, Satan is described as a liar and he comes to steal, kill and destroyMatthew 13:18-23 describes some of Satan’s tactics.  Have you experienced any of his attacks lately?  Maybe you chose the yoke of sin… again.  Did thoughts like this swirl through your head?  “Look at you.  You let go of that sin and in no time, you’ve taken it back.  You’re a failure.  You can’t surrender.  Might as well give up now.  No use in trying anymore.”  Those are lies, dear friends.  Satan condemns and it’s harsh.

Jesus convicts us gently when we put on the yoke of sin.  He invites us to come back to His easy yoke.  He encourages us to approach the throne of grace with confidence so we can receive His forgiveness.  See the difference?  (Want more information on the difference between condemnation and conviction?  Read about it here.)

Need a song to remind you how much you’re loved and forgiven?  Then take a moment to listen to Forever Reign by Hillsong.  Run to His arms… He’s waiting for you.

Today’s reading is Romans 2:1-16.

Here’s some questions for you to consider.

  1. What did you learn about God in these verses?
  2. Read verse 4 again.
    • How have you experienced God as wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient?
    • What does this tell you about God’s character?
    • How does this encourage you to take off the yoke of sin and put on the yoke of Jesus?
    • Read Romans 2:13 and James 1:22-25.  What did you learn from these verses?

We all sin.  And I’m so incredibly thankful that our Father God is a God of unconditional love and grace as described in Isaiah 30:18 (AMP):

18 And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!

He’s lifting Himself up to welcome you as you come, ready to repent of your sins.  Rest in that truth today, dear friends.

©2014

Read Through Romans – Day 2

girl catching snow

Walking in a Winter Wonderland came to mind this morning as I took in the beauty of the ice and snow.  Snowflakes were gently dancing to the ground.  Ice enveloped the trees with glistening beauty.  There was a stillness in the air.  As I arrived home from taking my boys to school, I took a moment to pause.  I stood outside with my face to the air and tried to catch a snowflake or two on my tongue.  I watched the snowflakes land on my black jacket and loved how I could see the intricacy of their design.  I smiled as the snowflakes tickled my face.  It was so peaceful.  It was a moment to take in the beauty of God’s creation.  How blessed we are to have a God that gives us beauty no matter what season it is!

This moment of delighting in the Winter Wonderland ties in perfectly with our Romans reading for today.  Take a moment to read Romans 1:18-32 and see if you can find the verse that I’m referring to.

Here’s some questions for you to consider:

  1. What is your initial reaction to these verses?
  2. Review Romans 1:18-23.  What happens when we just know ABOUT God (Romans 1:21-23)?  (Keep in mind that “Yes, they knew God…” really means they knew ABOUT God.)
  3. How can you guard against a dark and confused mind?
  4. How can you worship and give thanks to God each day?
  5. Review Romans 1:28-32.  Matthew 11:28-30 tells us that Jesus invites us under His yoke.  However, we get to choose which yoke to wear because Jesus is a gentleman and won’t force us put on His yoke.  How would you describe the yoke of sin based on Romans 1:28-32?
  6. Read John 3:16 and Romans 5:8.  How do these verses give you hope if you find yourself under the yoke of sin?

If you’re wearing the yoke of sin today, there’s hope for you!  You can choose to take off that yoke of sin and put on the yoke of Christ.  Hebrews 4:15-16 (NET) reminds us to repent and receive God’s grace and mercy.

15 For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.

Take a moment right now and approach the throne of grace with confidence and ask Jesus to help you take off the yoke of sin and put on His light and easy yoke.

Need some help putting 1 Thessalonians 5:18 into practice (Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus) to guard against a dark and confused mind?  Check out Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare or The Thankfulness Experiment.

Keep trusting and surrendering, dear friends, moment by moment!