September 1, 2011

Today you should read: Romans 2:17-29

Have you ever heard the old saying “Do as I say, not as I do”? How about, “Practice what you preach” or “Walk your talk”? These sayings come to my mind when I read this passage. You see, the Jews had this idea that they were safe from God’s judgment because of their position as His chosen people. They were spiritually prideful – the worst kind of pride – because they had God’s law and practiced His covenant sign of circumcision.

They thought they were in the clear. Not only that, but they thought themselves superior to others because they were also teachers concerning God’s laws and basic religious morality. In this passage, Paul shoots all those prideful notions down. He tells the Jews that even though they think they are teachers they really are not because they do not “practice what they preach”. They tell others to follow God’s commandments but they don’t follow them. Paul tells them that they dishonor God because of their hypocrisy and that circumcision’s importance is not in the physical ritual but rather in the act of obedience. It is not about being given the right to do what you want because you are in the “in” crowd; it is about obeying the God who so loves you and that He has given you a clean and renewed life.

What about us today? Are we living as though we are the “in” crowd? Do we act like, because we go to church and know Jesus, we are “safe” and can live how we want? Shame on us for this kind of living. God did not save us so we can do what we want. God has saved us, Ephesians 2:10 says, “to do good works.” We are called to obedience when we are saved. Does our walk match our talk? Do we come to church and say churchy, religious stuff, put on a smile, then go about business as usual the rest of the week?

Take some time now to examine your life. Take a few minutes and pray Psalm 139:23 to the Lord. Ask God if your walk matches your talk. We might be the only Jesus someone ever sees. We have to be careful that they see the real Jesus and not a hypocritical, “do as I say and not as I do” Jesus.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

August 31, 2011

Today you should read: Romans 2:1-16

I love what Paul does in these first 8 chapters of Romans. He’s straight and to the point. He pulls no punches.

In our reading today (and so far this week for that matter), Paul is setting the stage for a grand story — the story of redemption. The way he does it, though, is different than what we might expect. He does it in a courtroom. Have you caught all of the vernacular used in chapter one and two up until this point? It’s almost completely legal language. After all, the Romans could understand this, for they were a parliamentary people.

But who’s on the stand? Who is Paul making a case against? The Romans? The Jews? Yes… and you too.

Who is the Judge? Romans 2:16: GOD THE FATHER

What is the charge? Romans 3:23: GUILTY.

What is the sentence? Romans 6:23: DEATH.

Is there any hope?
Is there any chance of freedom?
Can anyone declare me NOT GUILTY?

Yes. Romans 8:1: JESUS CHRIST.

In today’s verses, Paul is specifically making the case against the Jews. This actually includes himself. He is making a stern point that, while the law was there for their good, it cannot save them:

And the Jews, who do have God’s law, will be judged by that law when they fail to obey it. For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. Romans 2:12b-13

Here’s where Paul’s going, and this is where we come into the picture. If the Jews, who were God’s people and had God’s law, could not save themselves through right living, no one can.

So, I ask you this question today: have you been trying to save yourself by your own merit? Do you rely on your good works to get you to heaven? Why, on that judgment day, in that big courtroom in the sky, should God declare you NOT GUILTY? If the answer is anything other than through the righteousness of Christ, you have no hope.

But today, you have the chance to embrace hope. Place your faith in Christ, the one who paid for your sins and bought you with His life.

For those of you walking closely with Christ or are striving to get there, continue to cling to the Gospel like never before. Grab hold of the feet of Jesus and never let go. The Good News that saved you is still at work in your life today, not because of anything you’ve done, but because of everything He did.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

August 30, 2011

Today you should read: Romans 1:18-32

Today’s passage is a rich one! It teaches us some significant truth and challenges us to our core.

As you read these verses, you see a four-step process away from God… a process that always ends in destruction.

STEP ONE: Suppress (v.18-20)

This process begins when we begin to suppress the truth we know –- truth about God, truth about ourselves, and truth about sin. This produces wickedness in us. God has made truth obvious to all mankind, even those who don’t yet know Jesus are without excuse. Even the man on the island knows innately there is a God.

STEP TWO: Deny (v.21-23)

The next step is an easy progression away from God: we begin to deny. They know there is a God (v.20), but they wouldn’t worship Him as God or even give Him thanks (v.21) They begin to think up foolish ideas of what God is like. In other words, they create their own God! They claim to be wise but instead they worship themselves and their own made-up God rather than the true God. This hits close to home! How do we do this? How do we worship our version of God instead of God as He really is? How do we dress Him up in our made-up clothes? By doing so, we deny Him.

STEP THREE: Abandon (v.24-27)

The next step is an obvious one: after we SUPPRESS truth and begin in subtle ways to DENY God, we ABANDON Him. This is where things go south in a hurry! Sin is produced and we do unmentionable things, things we NEVER thought we were capable of. But, because sin is fun and addictive, we continue in them moving further and further from God. One time – becomes two – becomes ten – becomes…

STEP FOUR: Reap (v.28-32)

And that brings us to the horrible part of the process – the reaping. For many of us, that’s when we really see this process in others, but it’s been active for a while. God gives us many opportunities to get out before this.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

By now sin has a real bite and verses 29-31 starts to be your song…

This sounds a lot like what James describes as the process Temptation takes in James 1:13-15:

THINK a THOUGHT -> COMMIT the SIN -> SIN becomes a HABIT -> ENDS in DESTRUCTION

Time for evaluation…

Where are you in the process? Will you to let sin have your heart or are you willing to repent right where you are and give your heart back to God? If you do, get accountability… you can’t do it alone. Count on my prayers and let me know how I can help.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

August 29, 2011

Today you should read: Romans 1:1-17

The Gospel is never to be left behind…

“Ok Romans, here we come!” Our journey through the book of Romans begins today, and what a passage to begin with!!

The letter begins with Paul’s introduction. Paul, right away, qualifies himself as well as shares his purpose in life (v1). He basically says, “I was set apart, by Jesus, as the last ‘apostle’ to proclaim the message that you are about to hear!”

Paul goes further by proclaiming that “this gospel of God” was the thing that was promised all the way from the Old Testament. He shares that Jesus Christ was the promised, coming Messiah who was fully man and was the Son of God! (v. 2-4)

Paul then writes that his goal as an apostle is to bring about obedience of all people, which begins with the gospel and is for the purpose of…don’t miss this…for the purpose of, Jesus Christ’s glory!!! (v. 5-6).

In verses 8-13 Paul expresses his longing to visit Rome and have ministry among them as well as be encouraged by them.

And lastly in verses 14-17, Paul brings it home. These are powerful words!! Don’t miss this. In verse 14 he says that he is under obligation, by the command of Jesus Christ, to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles! Hey guess what…so are you.

In verses 16-17 (skipping verse 15 for a second) Paul writes some of the most famous words in the Bible. It is a warrior’s battle cry!! He says, “I am not ashamed! I am not scared! I’m not timid in front of my family, friends, or anyone else! I will share the gospel!” But he also shows why he is so eager to do so. It is because the gospel is the power of God to save sinners.

Finally, in verse 15 Paul says, to believers, that he is eager to bring the gospel to them!?!?! Why? They’re believers!!? Why do they need the gospel? Here’s why, because the gospel is what changes lives, not only for salvation, but for the rest of your life as well!! This is so important, and this is where I want to land today.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

The gospel is the good news that Christ died for sins. When we accept this truth, we are saved from the penalty of our sin, because Christ took the punishment for us. That is good news indeed!

But, the good news doesn’t stop there. After we are saved we will face temptations (most of the time without knowing it) to believe lies. We will believe that God’s opinion of us is based on what we do, how we act, how we’ve screwed up, how many quiet-times we’ve had, whether we’ve had a good week or not, etc. We base His opinions of us, and His love for us, on ever-changing subjective thoughts, feelings, and actions. We also allow our guilt and shame to cause us to believe lies. And we don’t even know we are doing it! All of a sudden an all-loving, fully-pleased, wrath-satisfied, and faithful God becomes a disappointed, distant, displeased, and impatient God who does nothing but shake his head in disappointment. Can you relate?

Well, here’s the truth. If you have repented of your sinful nature and put your faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior, then the Gospel applies to you. And God’s love for you is only conditional upon ONE THING, and that is Christ’s death on the cross. I know that this seems too good to be true. But you have to force yourself to believe truth. That is why it is such amazing grace! It is the gospel! The good news! And you need the truth of it every day! Never leave it behind! Christ said, “It is finished!” and indeed it is.

That’s why I believe Paul wanted to bring the Gospel to people who were already “saved.” Because the message never ceases to work in our lives and they needed it. Do you need the truth of the gospel today? Believe it.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione