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Romans 7:21 – 8:39

ROMANS 7:21 – 8:39

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? If your experience is like most people, following through with your resolutions is a lot harder than making them. One-third of the resolutions made on January 1st are broken by February 1st. So by February 1st many people regret the money they spent on a treadmill or gym membership. Others have given up on quitting smoking or losing weight. They’re frustrated and right back where they started.

The apostle Paul knew the pain of failed attempts at making lasting change. He genuinely wanted to live to please God . . . and failed . . . again and again. He gives a window into his frustrated emotional state when he says, “What a wretched man I am!” Continually failing made Paul miserable. He felt like he was his own worst enemy. Do you ever feel that way?

But Paul’s story didn’t end with his failures. He points us to the hope he had for the future. He writes, “Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The answer to Paul’s misery was not found in his own attempts at perfection, but in the perfect life of Jesus Christ.

One can sense the huge burden that was lifted off of Paul’s shoulders as he focused on Christ’s perfection instead of his own failures. Jesus lived a perfect life. Jesus kept all of God’s commands. And on the cross Jesus gave his life and traded it for Paul’s life and your life. God delivered Paul through Jesus Christ and he did the same for you. The burden of trying to be perfect to please God has been taken off your shoulders forever.

Now we face the daily struggle of living a life of thanks to God. Let’s be honest, it isn’t easy. Sometimes we will enjoy success. Other times we will fall short. But don’t live in misery. Live in peace. Christ offers you strength for the battle and hope for the future.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the victory through Jesus. Send your Holy Spirit to strengthen my faith in you and to increase my love for those in my life. Amen.

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Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death.

Old school games have elaborate rules for every situation. When you play those games, you are supposed to play by the rules. If you play those games in organized leagues, someone is hired to enforce the rules.

Many newer online games, by contrast, introduce first-person situations where it seems almost as if there are no rules. The player interacts with other players in the virtual world and tries things out to see what will happen.

Some people prefer old school games, and others live to play the newer ones.

You don’t have a choice when it comes to the game of life. If you sin, you die. That’s the rule. In fact, it’s a law, a statement of fact. It doesn’t matter how big or small the sin is. And it turns out that it’s no game.

But Jesus Christ did not sin, and he still died. By doing that unfair thing, he took the punishment for my sin, and for the sin of every person of all time.

As a result, through faith in Christ Jesus, the law cannot condemn me to death. Instead, the Spirit gives me eternal life. This basic principle of the Bible, of Christianity, means that no one can condemn me. Since God has forgiven me through the work of Jesus, I can live without guilt.

And I can enjoy all of the games of life, whether they are old school or online.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for taking away my condemnation. Keep me safe in Christ Jesus all the days of my life. Amen.

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For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

It is tempting to think that by doing random acts of kindness we can earn enough points with God to get to heaven. Since he tells us what we should do and what we should not do, he expects that we can actually do the right thing, right?

Wrong. Just because the credit card company sends the bill doesn’t mean that they assume we can pay it. They just tell us what we owe. The bill does not give us the ability to pay it.

And the law does not give us the ability to keep it. That’s because we have sinful natures.

In the Old Testament, God commanded his people to give an offering when their sinful nature led them to sin. The offering was to atone for the sin. The people were learning the concept that something had to be done to make up for sin.

Jesus has made up for our sin once and for all by being our sin offering. His suffering and death on the cross were the punishment for our sin.

Now the righteous requirements of the law are fully met in us, not by anything we have done or refrained from doing, but by our connection to Jesus. God the Holy Spirit has given us faith in Jesus, and we live according to that faith. Jesus’ perfect life and his atoning death are ours.

Now the Holy Spirit leads us to do random acts of kindness. Why? Not so that we can go to heaven. Jesus has already accomplished that for us. Our random acts of kindness flow from a heart that is thankful for what Jesus has done.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me opportunities to thank you for your gift of perfect righteousness. Amen.

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Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. 7The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

There is an element of truth to the cartoons and skits where the person has an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. It’s true that in everyday life we are often confronted with choosing between right and wrong.

There is also something misleading about that picture. In real life, we don’t need a devil on our shoulder to tempt us to do the wrong thing. Our own sinful nature does that well all by itself.

And in real life, it’s not an angel on our other shoulder telling us what is right and good. The Holy Spirit himself lives in us, and prompts us to thank God for his blessings by doing what is right and refraining from what is wrong.

It doesn’t please God if our sinful nature stumbles onto something that looks good. The sinful nature cannot please God, because the motives of the sinful nature are never a joyful response to what God has done.

God has to overrule the sinful nature by bringing us to faith. He does that by the power of the Holy Spirit, who works through the promises of God in Word and sacrament.

Does it make any difference whether we listen to our sinful nature or to the Holy Spirit? It certainly does! The sinful mind is death. The mind controlled by the Spirit is life. It’s not complicated. Life is better than death.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for leading me to life through faith in Jesus, my Savior. Amen.

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You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Have you ever seen a child, who for whatever reason, seems to rebel at authority? No matter what his parents say, he is not going to listen. He has made up his mind to do his own thing, and anyone who tries to interfere will be blasted by anger and temper tantrums. The child is going to do what he wants and no one is going to stop him.

This is what a life controlled by the sinful nature looks like to God. It’s a life that completely rejects his authority and has no appreciation for his love. It’s a life that disregards his Law and only follows its own selfish desires. As we read previously, “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (Romans 8:7).

How different is life by the Spirit! The apostle Paul says, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you” (Romans 8:9a). If the Lord had not sent his Spirit, every one of us would be controlled by our sinful nature. We too would be hostile to God and our end would be judgment and death.

But God sent his Spirit into our hearts. How can you know if the Spirit lives in you?

Simply ask yourself this question: Do I believe that Jesus is my Savior from sin? If you answered, yes, you can be sure that the Spirit is dwelling in your heart. The Bible says, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3b).

While we might not see it, feel it, or experience it with our senses, the Spirit’s presence in our hearts changes everything. It connects us with Christ and gives us a desire to live in his righteousness. It motivates us to put to death the desires of our sinful nature and follow Jesus. Not only that, but the Spirit who dwells in our hearts through faith so intimately connects us to our Savior, that when we die, our bodies will be raised to life. Praise God for this life by the Spirit!

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Spirit into my heart to connect me to Jesus. Help me to live in the joy of his righteousness and to put off the desires of my sinful nature. Amen.

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Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Most everyone would agree that there is nothing more important to a child’s well-being than having loving and caring parents or guardians. When children feel protected, taken care of, and nurtured, they are usually more obedient, do better in school, and know how to form relationships with others. However, when children live in constant fear of a parent, just the opposite often happens. They suffer in school, have a low self-esteem, and find it difficult to trust others.

God gave us life by his Spirit when he led us to trust in his Son Jesus. This gift of his Spirit changed our relationship with our heavenly Father. The apostle Paul says it this way: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship” (Romans 8:15). Without God’s Spirit in our hearts, we would fear God and have nothing to look forward to except his judgment on our sin. But the Spirit leads us to see Jesus—the one who became our sin, so that we could be God’s forgiven children. Right now, we can be confident that God loves and cares for us as we await the glorious inheritance he has waiting for us.

This wonderful truth not only changes our future, it changes our lives right now. There is a huge difference between a child who obeys his parents because he is afraid of punishment, and a child who obeys because he knows that he is loved and cared for. Instead of living as slaves to our sinful nature with nothing but death as our future, we can live as God’s grateful children making the most of every opportunity to thank our Father.

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, help us to always remember that through Jesus we are your dear children and you are our dear Father. Amen.

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“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

The mini-van was loaded with the two parents and four kids, ranging in age from 3-10. The trip was a long one. Assuming good travel, it was going to take about 20 hours. After about 2 hours the 6-year-old said, “Are we almost there?” :-) The husband and wife glanced at each other and murmured, “Patience, patience!”

Patience isn’t the easiest thing for any of us, whether we’re 6 or 66. And while a cross-country trip lasts just a day or so, things like dealing with illness or injury or a broken relationship can last day after day after day after day. Patience, patience.

For what reasons does God allow difficulties and challenges to come into our lives? One reason could be that dealing with those difficulties can teach us patience.

But they also whet our appetite. It is going to be great when we’re released from the difficulties of this world and enter our heavenly home. It is going to be awesome to have a perfect, glorified body. It is going to be fantastic to have only perfect relationships. It will be amazing to meet Adam and Eve, Noah, Mary and Joseph. It will be wonderful to meet Jesus face-to-face!

All these things will be great! Amazing! Wonderful! You will experience all of that, and more, because Jesus lived, died and rose for you!

And how can it help us to know all of this about the future? It gives us patience! Yes, this world might be trying and difficult, but something amazing is coming! Kind of like that road trip was long, but we got to grandpa and grandma’s house, and it was all worth it. All that we go through in this world will be worth it, too.

Prayer: Lord, help me patiently await the glory which is to come. Amen.

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In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Sometimes we don’t know what to pray for, because the situation is just too difficult for us to comprehend. Or, sometimes we are too weak to pray because we don’t know what God has planned for our good.

In life we experience all kinds of adversity and accidents. We struggle to understand how these things can be beneficial when they smash into us and mess up our lives. In difficult times, it’s hard to know how God is working all things out for our good.

Sometimes we don’t know what to pray for because we don’t know the situation in the lives of others, and what they need. So we don’t pray for them.

But the Holy Spirit knows. He knows all things, perfectly. And so when you and I don’t know what to pray for, the Holy Spirit actually prays in our place. Yes, God himself prays the prayer that we don’t know – couldn’t know.

What an amazingly gracious God we serve! Not only did he save us eternally, but he even steps into our shoes in day-to-day life situations, praying for us according to his will! Thank you, God, for helping us in our weakness!

Prayer: O Holy Spirit, continue to pray for me. Amen.

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And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

“God works for the good of those who love him.” Really?!

What about the Christian father ripped by death’s ugliness from his wife and three small children? What about the child battling cancer instead of going to school with his friends? What about the spouse who relied so much on the lifelong partner who is no longer there?

The dying and hurting and wondering, people who are suffering and searching, grasping and gasping—situations that lead people, yes God’s people, to ask: Why me? Why him? Why her? Why this? Why now?

How can this be for good?

This is God’s promise: Every situation in life will in some way be used by God for the good of his people. Everything that happens to us will be used by him for our spiritual and eternal welfare and/or the spiritual and eternal welfare of others. Perhaps we won’t see how right away, and perhaps there will be situations we won’t understand this side of heaven, but still God’s promise is true!

How can you be sure?

Look at the One who made the promise. He is the One who knew you in eternity and chose you to be his own. He is the One who called you out of the darkness of sin through faith in his Son who is now your Brother. He is the One who declared you not guilty and made you one who shares in the blessings of Christ. He is the One who assures you that the glory you taste now will be perfectly experienced by you with him in heaven.

This is God’s promise. Trust him. Trust that God can and will make all things work for your good.

Prayer: Dear Lord, though there are times when I and others don’t want to hear these words, let them be spoken. Let them be heard. Let them bring comfort. In time. In Jesus. Amen.

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What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Satan and those in league with him want to raise doubt in your mind and heart—doubt about God’s loving care for you in this life, and doubt about the reality of a glorious life to come. “How can you be sure? How can you be sure God will deal graciously with you in this life and take you to be with him in heaven?”

When you are challenged by the devil and these questions, turn to the truths God holds before you today:

1. (verse 31) Because God is for you, no one can be against you. No one can undo what God has done for you. Not Satan. Not the sarcastic skeptic. Not your nasty neighbor. No one. God is infinitely greater than all of them!

2. (verse 32) God willingly gave his Son for you, to make the needed and perfect payment for your salvation. Since he did this, you can be sure he will supply everything needed for a blessed life as his child, now and forever. God’s providence never fails!

3. (verse 33) No one can accuse you. No one can bring a charge against you. No one can say you are not worthy (not even you). God has chosen you. And he has justified you. God has declared you not guilty. And so you are not guilty!

4. (verse 34) No one can condemn you. Jesus died for you; any charge that might have been brought against you is erased. In fact, Jesus’ resurrection assures you that this is the case. What’s more, Jesus is at God’s right hand interceding for you. You couldn’t ask for a better advocate. God continues to act on your behalf!

When situations or circumstances or the questions of Satan challenge your faith, turn to the God-promised, God-accomplished, God-given truth.

Prayer: Dear Lord, work through your truth to remove all my doubts. In Jesus. Amen.

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Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord is the most important love of all. This is very comforting and encouraging for us to remember because you and I are born sinful and we live in a world twisted by sin. As a result, when we walk with Christ Jesus our Lord, we will face trouble and hardship. We will face some sort of persecution. We will face our version of famine or nakedness or danger or sword. Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 when he says about himself, the Roman Christians, and all those who follow Jesus: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

This life will have its share of troubles. Some trivial. Some nagging. Some severe. Some seemingly insurmountable. What a joy to know, therefore, that none of this can separate us from the love of Christ! None of these things can overcome us! In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!

That’s not about us. That’s not about our strength. That’s not about our love. It is about God’s love. Through the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord we are victors—victors who live with and for him now, and victors who look forward to living with and for him in glory everlasting.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for convincing me that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.

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Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


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About the Bible


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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Romans 5:9 – 7:20

ROMANS 5:9 – 7:20

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, when 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 rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

What is our attitude as believers? Indeed, our sins remind us of our unworthiness before God. But that doesn’t mean that we believers need to walk around in a perpetual state of gloom. Look at verse 11. The word which is translated “rejoice” is usually translated “to boast.” So, it would be reasonable to translate that verse, “Not only is this so, but we also BOAST in God through our Lord Jesus Christ …”

We boast? Sure! Because we have a God who saved us! As sinners we “were God’s enemies” but “we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” and we are “saved from God’s wrath through [Jesus].” God has declared us to be innocent in his eyes, “since we have now been justified by [Jesus’] blood!” We boast because through Jesus “we have received reconciliation”—we are now FRIENDS with GOD.

Yes, we are friends with God because of Jesus who lived a perfect life for us, and bore the punishment for our sins by his death, and risen from the dead he now lives as our Lord. So yes, through Jesus we are innocent in God’s eyes, forgiven by God, and friends with God forever.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like something to boast about!

Prayer: O Savior, thank you for all that did to make me a friend with God. Fill me with proper confidence that stems from the love which you have shown me.

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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.

Lists have been compiled of people who have had great influence in the course of human history. Included on those lists are people like Isaac Newton for his advancements in science, Albert Einstein for his theories in the field of physics, and Johannes Gutenberg who aided rapid dissemination of information through his invention of the printing press. Who would you add to this list?

Influential people have revolutionized societies, cultures and countries through the thought process they proposed or the invention they introduced. Yet despite the amazing people you might find on these lists, none has universally affected every person of the world. Just by the fact that they appeared at a point in history negates their ability to influence all of history.

Except one.

One man and his actions affected every human being after him, in fact the whole world. The man? Adam. The action? Breaking the law of God. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (see full story in Genesis 3), the result was that “sin entered the world through [Adam], and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” No matter what the invention, thought, or new land discovered, no one man has had such profound or dire consequences on the human race.

You included? Yes, you too.

We may find ourselves not wanting to admit it or trying to avoid the thought that we too are sinful, but the truth is…we are sinful and live under its consequence. Every news report of death reminds us of this reality. Every funeral we attend is a reminder of the consequence of breaking the law of God. Death came to all people, you and me included, because all sinned…yes, you too…and me as well.

Influential people saw a problem and sought to change it. Newton took the unknowns of the universe and proposed theories to explain them. Gutenberg considered the time consuming task of hand copying books and created the printing press. Who is the person of influence to change the death grip of sin in our lives and that of the world?

Jesus Christ.

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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 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the 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. 18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 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.

When our calendars turn over to the month “December” the crunch is on to get everything ready for Christmas. Most important is probably a list of names for whom you would like to buy gifts…the challenge? What do you get for them? Toys? Clothes? Power tools? Electronics? Combining your budget with a gift that will be appreciated and used by the recipient can often be a challenge.

Before stressing out or thinking too hard, reflect on a couple truths of Scripture. Recall the previous devotion on Romans 5:12-14…the person of influence, Adam, who brought sin and condemnation of death to the world. Yes, you and every person on your shopping list are in the same condition…sinners who are unable to get right with God on their own and as a result deserve, “condemnation for all men.”

So while individuals may have things they want for Christmas, the one thing we all need is a solution for sin. Instead of power tools, electronics or clothes, God gives the Gift we all needed: his Son Jesus Christ.

Therefore, “…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!”

Unwrapping a gift is an exciting thing…but then when you realize what it really can do, the excitement builds. The story of Jesus’ birth is probably familiar to many, but do you really know and appreciate the Gift that’s “wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”? Romans 5:15-19 unwraps God’s gift to help us realize this “gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.” The perfect life of Jesus was the “right”ness that we all desperately needed. As a result we are justified, declared not guilty. This wonderful Gift brings forgiveness instead of condemnation. This Gift of God brings life, instead of death.

The Baby Jesus wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in the manger is the Gift we all need and the best gift you can share at Christmas or anytime!

Prayer: Thank you, LORD, for giving me the greatest Gift I could ever have, your Son Jesus. In him I know I am forgiven and by your grace will have eternal life, not condemnation. Use me to share your Gift with many others. Amen.

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The law was added 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.

In the previous devotion we reflected on the challenge at times we have to give a gift a person really wants and needs. The need is really dependent on the condition of the recipient. For the person who lives in the upper Midwest and doesn’t have a winter coat that fits, a new heavy winter coat will be much appreciated. The same gift given in South Florida would be looked at with a question, “Why do I need this?” When the gift matches the need, the gift is much more appreciated.

The Gift God gave in Jesus can be the same. For some he is received as a tremendous gift, for others he is dismissed like a winter coat in Florida. What determines our appreciation for the Gift of Jesus? How much do we realize our need?

God shows us our great need. He spelled out his unchanging will for our lives in his law. God wants us to know what pleases and doesn’t please him. If we didn’t have God’s written law, our only guide for right and wrong would be our consciences. This would provide some guidance, but our consciences are good at justifying our actions and making us feel OK, even to the point of feeling like we have done little or nothing wrong. Only when we are faced with the written law of God in the Ten Commandments do we realize we are not as good as we thought we were. God gave his law to show us our sin, as his word says: “The law was added so that the trespass (sin) might increase.”

The more we realize our sin, the more guilt we carry. The more guilt we carry, the more, I pray, we desire a remedy for that guilt. The more we see the need for forgiveness, the more we appreciate the Gift that God gives us in Jesus Christ.

This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 5:20-21. The more we are aware of our sin and need for a Savior, “grace increased all the more.” The more we understand our need for a Savior and how “sin leads to death”, the more we can appreciate the Gift of God that brings “eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Yes, the more you look at and apply the law of God, the more you are aware of your sinfulness. BUT the more you realize that truth, the more you are led to cherish and appreciate God’s perfect Gift of grace in Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, LORD, for your law which shows me my sins. I don’t like admitting them, but when I do, I realize how great the Gift is that you have given me in your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

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What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We 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? … 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

In these verses, the apostle Paul tells us that it’s good to be baptized, because when you are baptized, you die. Wait, what?!

Let’s back up a step. In the first five chapters of Romans, Paul made it clear that we are forgiven and saved through faith in Jesus, who paid for all our sins by his death on the cross. But he doesn’t want us to get the wrong idea. Someone might say that if we’re forgiven of everything, we should just go ahead and sin all we want.

Paul combats this wrong idea by talking about baptism. Through faith in Jesus, baptism ties you to everything Jesus has done to save you. His crucifixion is your crucifixion. So baptism is indeed a death, but it’s a good kind of death. Paul says that in baptism, “your old self was crucified.” He’s saying that baptism is the death of your sinful nature. Martin Luther called it a drowning. The point is this: you can’t fix your sinful nature. You can’t improve it. It has to die. God accomplishes this in you when you are baptized.

If it weren’t so, baptized people would think of God’s forgiveness as though it were a free pass to commit all kinds of sins. If your sinful nature still held sway after you were baptized, God’s forgiveness would actually drive you away from him, because you’d always be using it for your own purposes instead of his. When you die in baptism, so does your desire to live apart from God.

In fact, long after you’re baptized, your baptism continues to serve as an incentive and a reminder to deal with your sin the only way you can. It can’t be fixed. Don’t even try. Just drown it. Kill it, by confessing your sin to God. In these verses from Romans, Paul gives Christians the key to Christian living. Now that you’re forgiven, should you keep sinning? No, because that’s not who you are. All who are baptized into God’s name belong to him.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed. I’ve sinned by what I’ve done, and by what I’ve left undone. In you alone do I find forgiveness and peace.

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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 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. … 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.

Should a Christian keep on sinning, now that they’re forgiven? “No!” says the apostle Paul. The opening verses of this chapter show us that a Christian’s baptism is a daily confession of sins, a daily drowning of the old sinful nature. But that’s just the beginning of what baptism means. Spiritually speaking, baptism is also a daily resurrection from the dead.

The Bible speaks of a day when all who believe in Jesus the Savior will be raised from the dead, glorified, and taken to heaven (Philippians 3:20,21). Think what it will be like for people to be raised from the dead. No one has ever awakened so refreshed. Their whole heart is now perfectly in line with God’s. Now they can serve him without weakness, in perfect joy. And they will hear Jesus say to them: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take the inheritance, the kingdom that has been prepared for you since the creation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

That same clean heart, that same joy, and that same anticipation is yours in baptism, and it’s there for you every day. Listen again to Paul: “We were therefore buried with [Christ] 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” (Romans 6:4).

Have you ever wished you could have a do over? A fresh start? Baptism is a fresh start for you every day of your life. Baptized into God’s name, you are a new person. Baptism means that you can handle your troubles with new strength. Baptism means that you can serve God and others with new joy. How can baptism do such great things? It’s not the water. It’s the promise. In baptism, God connects you by faith to Jesus, your Savior. Baptism is a daily resurrection from the dead.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, in you alone do I find life and peace. Refresh me through your saving word. Amen.

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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 the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Although it doesn’t happen quite as often in real life as it does in soap operas, people do get amnesia. Due to some kind of trauma, a person can lose vital pieces of their memory. Once in a while there are victims of amnesia who retain almost all of the knowledge they had before. They retain skills they had learned like playing musical instruments, typing and reading maps. They simply forget who they are.

What if you had this kind of amnesia? The skills that you now have and use every day would become very mysterious. You wouldn’t know why you are able to do what you do. You would become disconcerted, frightened, maybe even angry. Certainly you could never rest or be at peace as long as your identity eluded you. If you have no identity, then you have no purpose.

Sometimes Christians forget their identity. It happens when they define themselves according to their sins. They may know what they’re doing is wrong, but they say, “Well, I guess that’s just who I am.” In today’s reading, the apostle Paul reminds Christians of who they really are, and tells them what this means.

He writes, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Being “alive to God” means you can converse with God, delight in him, praise him, and love him and others. Paul says, “count yourself alive to God.” He’s reminding us that every believer has been brought from death to life. He’s telling believers, “This is who you are.”

You may be a son, daughter, father, mother, grandparent, student, teacher, employee, employer, professional; you are a citizen. Each calling gives you purpose for your existence on this earth. But there is no greater calling or purpose than that of being a Christian. A Christian’s connection to God brings meaning and purpose to everything you do. It’s all an offering of thanksgiving to God. In short, whenever you remember what Jesus has done to save you, life becomes worth living!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me remember what you’ve done for me, so that I never forget who I am. Let everything I do be one big sacrifice of thanksgiving to you. Amen.

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What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom 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 wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery 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!

We are free. Jesus earned freedom for us when he shattered the shackles which bound us to sin. He laid down his life as the ransom price for the sin which held us all captive. When he picked his life up again, he proved that not only he, but all who follow him in truth are free. Sin is no longer our master.

How sad when we let sin control us. How shameful when we convince ourselves God’s freedom gives us license to live any old way we want. As much as we might try to fool ourselves into thinking that serving sin is freedom, it is not. Slavery to sin does not bring any good consequences. Offer yourself to sin and it’s your last free act. Offer yourself to sin, and what does it get you? Nothing you are proud of now.

“But thanks be to God!” Through faith in Jesus created in us by the power of his Word you and I have been “set free from sin.” The liberation of our Savior Jesus gives us freedom from the guilt, the sorrow, the death which are tied to a life of disobedience.

Our life is not our own, and thank God for that! We were purchased for God by the precious blood of Jesus. Trusting in Jesus who sacrificed himself for us, we belong to God and are free to offer ourselves to God. That’s a freedom which never quits. Jesus’ blood is the balm which has healed all the wounds we inflicted upon ourselves and others when we were slaves to sin. His resurrection has flung open endless opportunities for us to care about God and care for others.

What endless joy and peace is ours now that God has done everything necessary so that we can truly live in his freedom!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I love the freedom I have in you through Jesus. Grant me your grace to silence sin’s temptations when they come and find joy in serving you.

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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.

The frenzy that goes along with the celebration of holidays can be exhausting. This is especially true at Christmas. The commercialization of this holiday can have that effect on us. By the time the day after Christmas arrives, we may be all Christmas-ed out.

Much like a commercialized Christmas, enslavement to sin gets old really fast. That tempting master never satisfies. He only takes. And in return for a lifetime of service, the pension is death.

But can the real Christmas celebration ever grow old? Christmas reveals God’s base of operations in his campaign against sin and death. It was a campaign into which he sent his Son to fight victoriously from the cradle to the cross. As a result, you are no longer a slave to sin. Sin may badger you. Sin may threaten you. However, when sin comes knocking, you don’t have to answer. When sin makes demands, don’t listen. Sin has no authority over your life.

Through faith in Jesus, you have a new, life-giving master. He has made you into a new creation. He gives you the freedom to be who you were created to be. He created you to be healthy in holiness, not sick in sin.

In some countries the day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day. Originally, Boxing Day was a day when servants would receive gifts from their masters. What a great reminder for us about God’s gift to us!

The gift which we receive from God, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, is a gift that always amazes. For when we were at our worst, God gave us his best. And no matter how long we’ve had it, God’s gift of a Savior, Jesus Christ, never gets old. For his salvation outweighs our sin; his grace covers our guilt; his rescue ends our rebellion and gives us life.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for giving me the gift of life for free in exchange for the death I deserved eternally. Amen.

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1Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law—that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? 2For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. 4So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 5For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

If you ask Christians to talk about what this devotion’s title might mean—We Die and Live—many will tell you that when we die, God promises to give us eternal life. Perhaps they might quote a part of the Bible, like John 11:25-26: “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’” That’s a great, true and hope-filled Biblical answer.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he explained “We die and live” in a different way. Paul said that we die and live NOW. When those Christians believed in God, they also died to the law, belonged to Jesus and bore fruit to God.

What did Paul mean when he wrote that? When Paul says that “you also died to the law”, he’s reminding them of what he told them in Romans 6 (see Romans 6:3-4). In baptism, God connected them to Jesus’ death and resurrection. Through their baptism, God removed the law’s hold on them. They were God’s children and belonged to God. They didn’t belong to the law, they belonged to Jesus. Because they were connected and belonged to Jesus, this made a huge impact on NOW. They were spiritually alive and bore fruit (good works) to God.

What does this mean for you and me? It’s essential for you to know how your relationship to God works. We belonged to sin and death, but God rescued you and me. In baptism, he connected us to Jesus’ death and resurrection. God made us spiritually alive. We belong to God, and live like it, too. Paul calls this bearing fruit (doing the good things God wants us to do). Because we are connected and belong to Jesus, this makes a huge impact on us NOW.

Take a few moments and consider:

1. I died to the law. In what ways have I lived like I still belong to sin? Like I still belong to myself? What sins do I need to confess?

2. I belong to God; I am his treasured possession. How does this change how I view myself?

3. I am to bear fruit to God. What good things can I do today in thanks to God?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for making me your own. You graciously give me what I do not deserve – forgiveness, life, peace and heaven. Let me give you what you do deserve – my endless thanks and joyful living for you. Amen.

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What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

You probably have seen the volcano science project. The student builds a model volcano, perhaps out of paper mache. Inside the “volcano” is a bottle with water, detergent, food coloring and baking soda. Then vinegar is poured in. The baking soda and vinegar produce carbon dioxide and the volcano “erupts.” On their own, the baking soda and vinegar don’t do much. When you mix them, you see a pretty cool reaction.

Let’s change the ingredients to what Paul listed when he wrote to the Christians in Rome. Let’s take us. We might not seem that bad or evil. Then, let’s add something very good and holy—God’s law. What happens? Paul tells us that a violent and deadly reaction erupts.

Why is that? We are not harmless and benign, like baking soda. We have a sinful nature that is corrupt, evil, wicked and an enemy of God. Often it doesn’t seem that way. We can remember nice things we’ve done. We look at our lives and perhaps don’t see any horrible wickedness (no murders, no bank robbery, etc.) We might think we’re harmless, but when we bump into God’s holy law there is a deadly reaction.

When our sinful nature collides into God’s law, it 1) produces sin and death, and 2) is exposed. Our sinful nature sees God’s holy laws and rebelliously craves to do the exact opposite of what God commands. Instead of less sin, we produce more sin. And when our hearts and lives are compared with God’s law, we clearly see our sin.

Is this collision bad or good? Sin is bad, and sin that we produce in rebellion to God’s law is bad. But this collision is good, too. It’s good because it shows us what we really are on our own. We can’t pretend that we’re pretty good people that God should just naturally love because we’re such swell folks. When our sinful natures collide with God’s holy law, we clearly see our completely lost and helpless condition. This deadly collision is good because we see what we are (sinners), what we have (death), and what we need (life and a savior).

And God provided the exact Savior we needed—Jesus. When Jesus collided with God’s law, he didn’t break it; he kept it and fulfilled it perfectly in our place. Jesus was holy, righteous and good, but he embraced the death our sins produced. God raised Jesus to life. Through Jesus, we now truly and eternally live.

Prayer: Holy God, in more ways and times than I know, I have rebelled against you. Thank you for showing me my sins. Thank you for providing the exact Savior I need. With the life you give me, let me give thanks to you. Amen.

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We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Trying to eat healthy food drives me crazy.

It isn’t that I don’t know what to eat. I know how to read food labels. I know the difference between good and bad foods. I know how many calories I am supposed to have in a day. I even know that I need to exercise.

But when I am confronted with a plate of cookies or a candy dish full of M&Ms, my plan goes out the window. I know the food I should be eating, but it is not what I end up eating. My appetite for sugar takes over. Is it too strong of a statement to say I struggle with an unhealthy food addiction?

The apostle Paul is struggling with something much more serious than junk food when he writes these words to the Romans. He is sharing his addiction, an addiction we all share. It is an addiction to sin.

Paul knew this addiction first hand. He tried to stop sinning many times. He tried to be kind and loving and compassionate at all times. He had plans to put others first and to control his thoughts of lust, envy, greed, selfishness and anger. He had a great plan.

But time after time he found himself right back where he started, doing things that he knew God hated, things that were wrong. This sin hurt his relationships with other people, and even worse, threatened to completely destroy his relationship with God.

Paul knew that he didn’t need to just work on “self-control”. He realized that he was the problem. He had a sinful nature. And, as a result, that sin living inside of him took over the steering wheel of his life at times. He wasn’t trying to make excuses; he was just trying to state reality. I think all of us can relate to his misery.

The answer for sin addiction does not come from inside of us. It comes from God. The first step to getting help is to do what Paul did. He confessed his sin and his inability to control his life. He asked God to help, and he did, by sending Jesus.

With the seed of faith in Jesus planted in his heart, Paul now had good inside of him – good that came from God. And so he committed himself to the daily struggle against sin.

Do you have sin with which you struggle? Take heart. Jesus has won the victory, and he offers strength to you for your daily battle.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I do things I don’t want to do all the time. Please forgive me. Take away my guilt. Give me strength to continue to struggle to do what is right. Amen.

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Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

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About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Romans 3 – 5:8

ROMANS 3 – 5:8

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.

At first Jim was excited to be the one entrusted with the heirloom family Bible. He knew that it was a treasured possession of his grandfather, and he was pleased to be singled out to get it.

But when Grandpa began to ask him questions about the book, Jim was a little put out. “Do you mean I am expected to read it?” he asked. “Not just read it,” Grandpa answered. “Read, mark, learn, and take it to heart!”

Generation after generation of Jewish people were entrusted with the very words of God. God sent his prophets directly to the people, and the faithful ones spoke as God told them. When it came to writing the Bible books, men of God put down every word as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Reading and hearing those words, Jewish people realized that they had some special responsibilities as the group from whom the Savior would come. They had to practice circumcision. They had to follow special ceremonial laws that pointed to Jesus.

At times it seemed like a burden, and at times the Jewish people were put out. “Why us?” they asked.

But it was an advantage to have the very words of God which told faithful readers and hearers about the coming Savior and the way to heaven. Jesus said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).

Grandpa knew that when he gave the Bible to Jim. He knew that the family Bible was written in archaic English, and that Jim would have to check a modern translation to understand the meaning of some verses. But Grandpa knew that the effort would be worth it, because the Bible is the very Word of God.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, it is extraordinary that you have entrusted me with your very words in the Holy Bible. Help me to believe and live them in a way that glorifies you through your Son, Jesus. Amen.

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What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar. As it is written: “So that you may be proved right in your words and prevail in your judging.” 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? 7Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a 8 Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!

It is a tragedy when a leader in the church is revealed as someone who is really an unbeliever. It shakes people’s faith to know that someone they trusted was really a hypocrite.

It is an even greater tragedy when those people, their faith shaken, stop going to church, cutting themselves off from the power of the Word, the only thing that can heal their spiritual wounds.

Did God do something wrong to let a hypocrite become a leader in the church? At first it might seem so. How could an all-powerful, all-knowing God let something like that happen?

God does not want us to sin. He condemns sinful thoughts, words, and actions. When anyone, even a church leader, sins, it becomes an opportunity to call another sinner to repentance and faith in Jesus for forgiveness. That is how God brings good out of a bad situation.

It is not an opportunity for the fallen church leader to complain about unjust treatment. It is not an opportunity for Christians to say, “See, he did something bad. I can do something bad too! I’ll just ask for forgiveness later.”

God is faithful. He promises us forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus as our Savior. Even in the worst of times, God is there for us with his call to repentance and faith.

Prayer:
Lord God, give me a heart that trusts and glorifies you in all situations. Amen.

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What shall we conclude then? Are we any better ? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, 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. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

People like to make their own lives sound good, no matter how bad they are really going.

Some people say, “At least I am not as bad as my relative or my neighbor.” But they are really just trying to take the spotlight off of themselves. God’s law does not allow that. It says, “Don’t talk like that. Look at yourself in the mirror, not your relative or neighbor.”

Other people say, “At least I am not as bad as I used to be.” But they are really just trying to compare themselves to their previous way of life, a lower standard, rather than to God’s law. God’s law does not allow that. It says, “You are accountable to God.”

Still other people say, “I do a few bad things, but I make up for them with random acts of kindness and a generally good life.” But they are really just trying to be declared righteous by the good things they do. It won’t work. God’s law says, “No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law.”

We know our sin. Our own lives will not get us to heaven. Only the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus does that.

Prayer:
Lord, when I am tempted to rely on my own life, call me to repentance and teach me to trust Jesus. Amen.

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But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

God wants to have fellowship with us. He wants us to live with him and experience his love and blessings. Finally, he wants to bring us to his heavenly glory. He has one requirement—we must be righteous. We must have the “rightness” that makes us acceptable to God. Setting the standard, God declares, “Be perfect.” We are to be and do everything according to what meets his approval. And what meets the approval of the holy God is nothing less than perfection.

Try as we may to reach that level of rightness by striving to do what God commands and avoiding what he forbids in his law, we are faced with the fact that it is impossible. The truth is that all of us “fall short” of the perfection that God requires. On our own, we are helpless and headed for hell!

Oh! How we need saving! God knew that, and in mercy he acted. He came into our world and freed us from the tangled mess of our sin by suffering for us the punishment we deserved. And he gave us his own perfection, so that God now counts us as perfectly right. We meet God’s approval because Jesus has covered us with his righteousness. What we could never produce on our own, God has freely given to us.

Jesus did exactly what we needed him to do: he saved us. Trusting in Jesus we have life with God and we will enjoy fellowship with him forever!

Prayer (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 376):
Jesus, your blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress;
Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in that great day—who can a word against me say?
Fully through you absolved I am from sin and fear, from guilt and shame.

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God presented [Christ Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

What good is a law if it is not enforced? For example, a stretch of road has a posted speed limit, but people go too fast because it is infrequently patrolled by the police. A parking space in front of the store is reserved for those with handicapped permits, but able-bodied drivers ignore the sign because they are quite sure that parking there will be overlooked. We’ve all done things that go against the law. If we are not forced to pay the price for our wrongful actions, we are emboldened to keep doing them. We conclude that the authorities aren’t serious or don’t care, so we can just do as we want without any fear of consequence.

It’s tempting to think that way about God. In his patience, he does not quickly bring judgment on us for our offenses against his law. As a result, we might be led to think that he is not serious when he threatens punishment for sin. And if we think that he is not serious about sin, we feel that we can live according to our own desires without fear of his justice.

The truth is that sin is very serious. In fact, God says that the consequence of sin is death! And that’s more than the kind of death associated with cemeteries. The consequence of sin is eternal death—condemnation in hell!

The fact that God “left the sins committed beforehand unpunished” is not because he isn’t serious about sin. It is because he mercifully loves us. Instead of carrying out his justice on us who truly deserve it, he laid the punishment for our sin on his Son. By shedding his blood on the cross, Jesus died the death that God’s justice demanded for sinners. With his justice completely satisfied by Jesus who served as our substitute, God has justly declared us free from the condemnation of death. Trusting in Jesus we have the gift of life with God forever!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help me to never minimize the seriousness of sin. Lift up my eyes to see the cross to count the cost that was paid there by my Savior to take away the punishment I deserved. Lead me to praise Jesus always for the life he has given me. Amen.

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Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29 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. 31Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Boasting about ourselves is not a characteristic that other people like very well. Even if the claims we make about ourselves are true, people grow weary quickly when we brag about who we are or how much we have or what we have done.

This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

What matters most is who we are before God. By ourselves we have nothing on which to base our boasts. Try as we may to live according to God’s holy will as he commands us in his law, we fail again and again. We fall short of the holiness that God requires of us to live with him.

Though we are undeserving, in his great kindness God gave us the holiness that we need. He did this through Jesus who took away the guilt of our sin by dying in our place, and credits our Savior’s perfect life to us. Since the holiness, the righteousness we need to live with God has come to us from God, we can’t take the credit. “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded.” We can’t boast about something we haven’t done or about something that is given to us that we haven’t earned.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). Boasting about Jesus is good and praiseworthy! For through his cleansing blood God has washed me completely clean, and by faith alone in Jesus I am delivered from the power of death and saved from the condemnation of hell. About Jesus my Savior I am glad to boast.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am glad to boast about you and praise you for all you have done that I should be your own and live with God forever! Amen.

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What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Does it irritate you when people boast when they have absolutely nothing to boast about?

A football player raises his hands to the crowd and thumps his chest after scoring a touchdown. The problem is, moments ago his team was trailing 42-0. The gorilla-like “look at me and the great thing I have done” display seems more than a little out of place. Really?! You are going to boast now?! Your team is still behind by 36 points! Toss the ball to the official and jog back to your sideline.

I must admit, such boasting irritates me.

I must also admit, I am guilty of sinful boasting. Maybe my boasting isn’t so in-your-face and blatant. Maybe I put on a better show of humility. But I boast nonetheless. About my earthly accomplishments. About my spiritual accomplishments. About how much better I am than others. If not outwardly, then in my mind, and in my heart. And so I boast before God who knows my mind and my heart.

That’s wrong. Sinfully wrong.

Like Abraham, I have nothing to boast about before God. Even if I kept all God’s commands perfectly, I would have nothing to boast about, I would only be doing what God told me to do. Besides, I have sinned, many times, and because of each sin I fall short of the glory of God.

So, life with God is not about boasting. It is about the righteousness that comes by faith—God-given, Spirit-born faith in Jesus, the perfect Son of God whose righteous life is credited to me and to you.

Thank God for creating and sustaining in you the faith that connects you to Christ and his righteousness.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the faith that connects me to Jesus. Enable me to live in the confidence that his righteousness is my life, my hope, my peace, my joy, my future. Amen.

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Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” 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 the sign of circumcision, 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 also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

In the opening chapters of the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, he has made clear the truth that righteousness comes from God by faith, not by our works. In the verses before us today, he supports this truth using the circumstances of Abraham’s life.

When you go to work, you expect that you will be paid; that’s how it works. You agree to do a certain job or work a certain number of hours for a salary or hourly wage. You have this expectation because you have entered into a work-wage relationship with your employer.

That’s not how it works with God. Yours is not a work-wage relationship; your relationship with God is a faith-gift relationship. By faith God credits you with the gift of righteousness. This is just as it was for Abraham. Abraham wasn’t credited with righteousness because he was circumcised; he was circumcised as a sign and seal of the relationship he had with God by faith.

What does that mean for you and all who believe? Thank God we are not right with him by virtue of a work-wage relationship! If that were the case we would have absolutely no certainty. In fact, if we got what we earned or deserved, we would be doomed! As it is—living in a faith-gift relationship with God—we have the confidence that comes with and through Jesus.

Paul puts it like this: You are blessed! You are blessed to know that your transgressions are forgiven. You are blessed to know that your sins are covered. You are blessed to know that your sin will never be counted against you.

Oh, the joy of the faith-gift relationship which is ours through Christ!

Prayer:
O Lord, fill me with joy today—the joy of knowing my sins are forgiven, the joy of knowing I have been credited with the righteousness of Christ, the joy of knowing all this is mine through the gift of faith and not by works. Today may I and many others walk in the footsteps of the faith of our spiritual father, Abraham. Amen.

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It was not through 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 live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15 because 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 are of 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.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

“There is more than one way to skin a cat.” The origins of this English saying are uncertain, but the meaning is clear. There is more than one way to achieve an aim. There is more than one approach to solving a problem. There is more than one way to get from A to B. Whatever you are trying to do, there are alternate ways of doing it; if plan A fails, one goes to plan B, and so on.

While this may be true in many earthly endeavors, the apostle Paul makes it clear that it is not true when it comes to heaven and eternal life.

For example, if you could get to heaven following the law, the “more than one way” axiom would be true. One person could choose plan A, another plan B, and so on. However, the law does not bring life; the law brings wrath. That’s because where there is law, there is transgression (sin), and where there is sin, there is condemnation (hell). The way of the law as a means of righteousness and eternal life does not and cannot work. That leaves us with only one way.

And what a beautiful way it is! The promise comes by faith. Righteousness comes by faith. These are beautiful words: by grace… guaranteed… to all!

The righteousness that comes by faith in Jesus is the way for all. It is the only way for all.

That is not a limiting truth; it’s a liberating truth. You are free from doubt, free from worry, free from uncertainty concerning your eternal future. You are free to rejoice, free to worship, free to serve, free to live. Free, through Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Help me cut off every thought and philosophy that suggests there is another way or multiple ways from me to you, from earth to heaven. May I rejoice in you always! Amen.

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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.” 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.

I have faith in God. Then why don’t I always live like I have faith? Why do I grow impatient so quickly? Why do I dwell on people’s failures when I should be praying for their futures? Why do I question God’s wisdom and will and ways? Why is my thinking clouded with doubt?

Abraham was not perfect. Scripture makes that clear. Yet, against all hope, Abraham believed. Even though he was almost 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old, Abraham believed. He knew that, as far as having children was concerned, he might as well be dead. He knew that his wife Sarah was well beyond childbearing years. As far as having children was concerned, she might as well be dead too. Yet Abraham believed he and Sarah would have a son.

Why did Abraham believe against all hope? Because it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Because God had said to him, “Abraham, you are going to have a son, and through that son I will ‘make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore’” (Genesis 22:17). God had said it. And Abraham believed God’s promise.

Why did Abraham believe against all hope? Because he was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Abraham knew that God’s power overcame what he saw in himself and Sarah: old people whose bodies humanly should not, could not, be the source of life. But God was almighty. And Abraham trusted God’s power.

By faith Abraham believed that God could raise up a son from his all-but-dead body, and by faith we believe that God raised his Son’s body from the death that held him. In both cases, death could not prevail. Abraham was blessed with a son. And we are blessed with a Savior. “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

When the circumstances of life tempt you to question God’s wisdom or doubt God’s ways, believe what Abraham believed—that God will accomplish his good will, even when it doesn’t seem likely, even when it doesn’t seem possible—by his promise and his power.

Prayer:
Lord God, strengthen me with a faith that gives glory to you, fully persuaded that you have power to do what you have promised. Through Jesus our Lord, who was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Amen.

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Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we 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 rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

If you wanted to telephone the president of the United States, do you think you could get through to him? Oh, I doubt it greatly! You and I don’t have access.

How about your governor? Senator? Representative? Do you have access to them? Can you dial them up on the phone and have a chat? Probably not! In fact, we might not even have regular access to the people to whom we are the closest: our spouse, our children, our parents, our siblings.

But how about the Almighty Ruler of the universe? Do you have access to him? The amazing answer is a resounding, “YES!” You can talk to God anytime you want, about anything you want. God – the Almighty Ruler of the universe – not only hears you, but he answers you! And he answers in the way that’s BEST for you, because the Almighty Ruler of the universe loves you dearly. After all, he declared you to be innocent because of what Jesus did for you. He won peace for you. And because he won peace for you, you have access to God, all day, every day!

Prayer:
Assure me, O God, that I’m at peace with you. Remind me that you will use all things to bless me. Encourage me to make use of the amazing access which you’ve given to me, access to YOU! In Jesus’ name I pray it, for it was Jesus who won access for me. Amen.

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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 man, though for a good man 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.

Which of the following is more accurate?

1. God looked down from heaven and said, “All of you are doing so well! You’re showing love to each other, you’re honoring me, you’re listening to my Word, you’re doing so well! So, I’m going to come and die for you.

2. God looked down from heaven and said, “All of you are awful! You’re bitter, angry, selfish. You don’t show love for one another, you don’t listen to my Word, you don’t give me honor. So, I’m going to come and die for you.

While it’s disappointing for us to admit it, the correct answer is “b.” God looked at us and we were in horrible shape! Listed in the second option above are just a few sins; hundreds more could have been listed. And we don’t commit sins just once or twice, we commit sins over and over again, because sin isn’t just what we do, but also what we say and what we think and what we desire! Sin also includes the good that we FAIL to do, for example, failing to love God with all my heart. How many times already today have I failed to do that? And yes, every time I fail to love God with all my heart, that is sin.

And so you and I deserve to go to hell.

But God chose to love us! Yes, in an amazing act of HIS will, he determined to come to this earth for you and me and all people to live and die for us! In an amazing act of his will, he determined to save us from hell! In an amazing act of love, Christ came to be our Savior! God has chosen to love us with the most amazing love ever!

Live today in confidence! You have God on your side! And, God … loves … you … dearly!

Prayer:
Assure me that you have chosen to love me, dear Savior! Fill me with peace because of it! Amen.

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Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

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About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Romans 1 – 2:29

ROMANS 1 – 2:29

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 human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

“You just gotta believe!”

When life gets hard, when no solution seems available, someone will inevitably offer up that tired phrase as encouragement. “You just gotta believe!”

Believe in what, exactly?

In governments? In myself? In money? Those things may seem capable of solving problems, but they really can’t.

Essentially, every small problem originates from one big Problem for which none of us has a solution. Sin. Sin results in animosity, frustration, pain, tears, and death.

In whom, then, should I put my trust when things go wrong? The problem of sin is too big for me to solve.

Trust “Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Jesus did what we never could or would do for ourselves. Though we don’t deserve it, he provided us with the perfect solution to the Problem of sin.

His perfect life and death is the “Way” God chose to pay for our sins. His powerful resurrection shows that he is God our Savior. His forgiving love and peace are just what we need to start over, as Paul did, and live our lives for him.

When life gets tough, when problems pile up higher than we can manage, when tears start flowing, and hope seems to fade, God calls us to believe in his Son – the Solution to all of life’s problems, big and small.

Now, that is worth believing!

Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for the grace and peace which are mine because you invited and brought me to believe in the Solution to all my problems, Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

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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 with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10in 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.

I’ve always been a little uncomfortable when people say, “Nice sermon, pastor!” In the same way, it’s always made me a little uneasy when applause is given in response to a Christian’s acts of Christian service.

In fact, it is my joyous responsibility to proclaim the grace of God to the best of my God-given abilities on any given week. Likewise, we always have the happy privilege of letting the light of Christ shine through us into the world. Just as trees are planted to produce fruit, and the sun was created to give light during the day, so the love of Christ compels us to live for Christ.

When people take notice of your deeds of faith, when you notice the Spirit at work in the lives of others, whom do you thank? It’s not wrong to thank people, but don’t forget the words of Paul that are quoted above.

Paul thanked his God. That ought to be our first response, too. Thank God that there are people who let the light of Christ shine. Thank God for giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.

Is it wrong to thank others for their acts of faith? No. But it may give the wrong impression. It may lead to selfish pride. We are better served, and more importantly, God is better served, when he is thanked.

Thank God, for it is God who called us to be holy. God is the one who poured his love into our hearts. God gave us faith in Jesus our Savior, faith from which that love flows.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for shining the light of the glory of Christ into my heart of darkness. Lead me always, by the message of Christ, to live a life of thanks and praise to you. Amen.

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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, 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. 14I 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 at Rome.

One lesson every toddler must learn is the concept of sharing. But it’s not just little ones who have this struggle. Egotism is no respecter of age.

There is only one way to break out of that cycle of self-centeredness—faith in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.

God loved the world so much that he shared his Son with us. Though he is God, Jesus did not demand and cling to his rights as God. The Master of all became the servant of all. The immortal God died and rose again that we might have life in him.

This is good news which Jesus urges us to share.

Faith in Jesus Christ enables us to look beyond ourselves to the needs of others. Just look at what the Spirit did for Paul. Before his conversion, Paul did what Paul thought was best. After the scales fell from his eyes, the Spirit filled him with the desire to share Jesus with others. He owed it to the world, regardless of the personal cost.

We, also, are obligated to share Jesus with the world. Do you know someone who needs comforting, encouragement, forgiveness, peace, or hope? Only Jesus provides all of that, and so much more. Share Jesus and you may be surprised at the results. In the process of lifting someone else up, you may find that the Holy Spirit gives you a faith-lift too.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the people in my life who teach and train me to know the love of Jesus. Make me strong to look beyond myself and to share Jesus with someone in need of an encouraging word. Amen.

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I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

There is far too little shame in our world today.

So many feel – demand even – the right to do what they want, say what they want, express themselves how they want, live as they want.

“It’s my life. I’ll live it my way.”

That kind of shameless talk may be popular. In the end, though, it always ends in separation from God and death.

There is only one Way which leads us through death to immortality. And there is only one Map which shows us that Way. The gospel directs us to Jesus Christ. He alone did what was right in the eyes of God, at all times. Then he suffered for all the sinful things we have done and ever will do. His resurrection is proof that our sinful shame has been removed.

Imagine that you receive an e-mail from a millionaire. He promises you a share of his wealth. You won’t get that share if you mark the e-mail as spam and hit “DELETE.” But when his words convince you to believe that he is telling the truth, then it’s yours. That’s also true of God’s precious work of salvation. He did it all for us. He planned it, and procured it for us through his Son. And we benefit from it when the Holy Spirit uses the power of the gospel to call us to faith in Jesus as our Savior from eternal death.

Jesus Christ assures us that all of our sins, all of our unrighteous acts are forgiven on the basis of the salvation that he fully accomplished for us. Our life in connection with Jesus Christ is shameless in God’s eyes because God has declared us righteous by faith in Jesus.

Now as children of God we no longer want to live to satisfy shameful desires. As we lean on him for strength, he enables us to stand strong on the Word of God, even as the world calls us bigots, fools, and old-fashioned.

Don’t be ashamed of that!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for removing the guilt of my sin by your death on the cross. Fill me with your grace that I may always treasure your salvation and live by faith without shame. Amen.

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The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men 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 men are without excuse.

When we don’t like something that is plainly seen, we try to cover it up. Photo programs on our computers “correct” pictures. Drywall mud and thick paint fix walls. Make-up covers blemishes. The “problems” were plainly seen, but we figured out how to cover them up.

Fixing red-eye in a picture or covering a skin blemish is fine. But God is angry when we cover up something else that is plain and clearly seen—God himself. When we cover up God, and his power and wisdom, we stir up God’s wrath.

How do people stir up God’s wrath? The apostle Paul wrote that people “suppress the truth.” How do we “suppress the truth”? Do we soak in nature’s great beauty and forget that we’re looking at the work of God? Have we believed the theory of macro-evolution instead of God’s clear truth that he created this world in six 24-hour days? God has blessed us with the place we live, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and all the things and joys of life. Do we see all these good things and forget to thank and praise God for them? When we’re in pain or facing a challenge, do we forget to ask God for his help and blessing? When we forget and rely on ourselves, we suppress the truth that we are blessed with God’s powerful and wise care.

God graciously and clearly shows himself to us. He has made the truth plain and easily seen by all. God shows his power and wisdom in his creation. When we lift up our eyes and see the sun, moon and stars; when we stand by an ocean or at the foot of a mountain; when we marvel at the power and beauty of the human mind and body, we see God’s power and wisdom.

God has also made the truth even more obvious and easier to see in the Bible. In God’s Word, he clearly shows us who he is—holy and loving, just and compassionate, all-powerful, all-knowing and kind. While God doesn’t hide himself from us, God does show us what he mercifully covers. God hides our sins when he covers them in the forgiveness Jesus won for us. That is the perfect cover-up.

God and his love is not something you want covered up. God lovingly shows himself to you. See God’s power and wisdom in the world around you. Open up your Bible and see God clearly.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for clearly showing yourself to me. Forgive me for the times I have ignored you or your truth. Help me to see you more clearly every day. Amen.

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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. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man 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 of 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 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 indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Over the years, there have been some horrible trades. If you’re a fan of the stock market or a professional sports team, you can relate. You can probably remember a trade that seemed doomed from the beginning, and then only got worse.

In a letter to Christians in Rome, Paul wrote that people made a horrible trade: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25). What was the trade? It wasn’t a sports or financial trade. People made a huge religious trade that was doomed from the beginning and only gets worse with time. They traded worship of God for worship of things. They chose worshiping and serving created things rather than the Creator. That was a bad trade that only got worse. They thought they were showing their wisdom by rejecting God, but really they were just being foolish. Their choices showed their futile and darkened thinking. People even misused God’s gift of sex, and in ways that according to natural law do not even seem wise. Their sexual perversion was not a glorious freedom, but only a twisting and abusing of God’s gift of sex.

Not much has changed since this was first written. Today, people still choose to worship created things instead of the Creator. People do this whenever they make something besides God their ultimate thing – the thing in which they find their highest love and joy and hope. People love their families, their careers, their stuff, their hobbies or themselves more than God. People still wildly abuse God’s gift of sex. Using sex any way a person feels like is not freedom. It is slavery, and a twisted abuse of God’s good gift. All those are created things. Why would we choose to love them more than our God who created them?

Here’s the truly crazy thing – although people chose to reject God, God chose to love the whole world. The sins that people embraced, God took and put on his Son, Jesus. The punishment for rebellion that we and everyone deserved, Jesus suffered. We had made a horrible trade. God made the trade that saved the world; that saved you and me.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us for the times we have traded you away and loved the things and people you made more than we have loved you. Thank you for giving your Son to rescue us. We thank and praise you for all you give us – in this life and forever in heaven. Amen.

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Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They 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 are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 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.

If you owned a grocery store, do you think what types of payment you approved and accepted would be important? How would business go if you decided that you would accept cash, checks, credit cards, Monopoly money and verbal IOU’s? I think you’d move a lot of product, but that your bottom line might struggle a bit.

It’s important to accept and approve the right things.

From the last verse of our reading for today, we see that we have a huge problem with that. We know what we should accept. We know God’s righteous decrees. Yet, we choose to do and accept so many things that fly in the face of God’s law and commandments. Read again the lengthy list of sins that we get swept up in. And, if you didn’t know before, you know it now – “those who do such things deserve death.”

Since we’ve accepted and done so many of those unapproved things, will God accept and approve us? We would have a better chance of being accepted at Wal-Mart or Trader Joe’s with Monopoly money than being accepted by God on the basis of what we have done. We don’t have what it takes to meet with God’s approval – not even close!

Thankfully, God’s acceptance of us doesn’t depend on us, but on him. If we fast-forward a few chapters in the letter to the Romans, Paul gives us great comfort. He tells us that Jesus “was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Jesus gave up his life and died for our sins. God accepted Jesus’ payment for our sins. And God declared you not guilty when he raised Jesus from the dead. God accepts and approves of you because of Jesus.

Now, what will you accept and approve? Worthless Monopoly money? Every kind of wickedness and depravity? No! Forgiven children of God accept and approve what God righteously decrees. We pursue God’s will for our lives because God pursued us and gave us new life.

Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for approving and accepting me because of what Jesus did for me. Give me the wisdom and strength to pursue, approve and do only what pleases you. Amen.

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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?

My mom always told me that whenever I point my finger at someone, I always have three fingers pointing right back at me.

Her point was clear, “I should be a little more concerned about my own behavior and a little less concerned about the behavior of others.” Turns out that my mom is pretty smart.

It is easy to be self-righteous as we look at the conduct of others. Just watch the local news and you can find someone worse than you are. But each one of us will have to stand before God one day to account for our own actions. When we do, we won’t be trying to measure up to someone else, but to God’s standard of perfection. How could anyone hope to escape God’s judgment?

But God has shown each one of us kindness. He does not rain down lightning bolts from heaven as punishment on us. He doesn’t pound on us day after day. He is kind to us. He gives us time to realize the wrong that we have done. He doesn’t treat us like we deserve.

God shows his kindness in many ways, but the greatest way is through his Son, Jesus. Even though Jesus lived perfectly, he willingly faced the judgment that we deserve. He accepted the blame for our sin. He faced God’s judgment for us and paid for our sins with his life. What a great gift! What a great God!

So the next time you are tempted to point a finger of judgment at someone, point them to the cross of Jesus instead. There you will find forgiveness for them and yourself.

Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for all the kindness you have shown me in my life. Everyday you remind me that you love and care for me. Lead me to enjoy the forgiveness I have in Jesus and to share it with others in my life. Amen.

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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.

Have you ever seen a statue of “Lady Justice”? She holds the scales in her hand to show that she is just. She has a blindfold over her eyes to demonstrate that she does not show favoritism.

But Lady Justice is a myth. She does not exist. Many doubt the integrity of our court system. The rich seem to buy their freedom. The poor can’t afford to bring their cases to court.

But God promises justice for all people. He uses the picture of a courtroom to show a day that is coming in the future. Each person will face him. This day is real and the judgment will be just. God will “repay each person according to what they have done.”

This justice might sound good at first, but it concerns me. I know the wrong I have done. I know the sin in my heart. My efforts to do good often end badly. More often than not I am stubborn and unrepentant. I deserve a guilty verdict.

How about you? How do you think you will do in God’s judgment? Have you done any wrong that God has seen?

The writer of the book of Romans was not calling the people to clean up their lives. He was encouraging them to be honest with themselves and God—to confess their wrongs. God wants us to confess our guilt and throw ourselves on his mercy. He promises forgiveness to all who do—no matter who they are.

Prayer: Almighty God, you are both a righteous judge and my loving Father. Help me to always be honest with you about my sin and to turn to you for forgiveness. Amen.

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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.) 16This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

3500 years ago God gave Moses and the Children of Israel the most well-known table of laws ever written. He gave them the Ten Commandments.

Perhaps the reason why the Commandments have stood the test of time and why they ring so true is that they were written somewhere else long before they were given to Moses. From the beginning, God has written his law on the hearts of all people.

God’s law is written on your heart. Think about it. You don’t need the Ten Commandments to tell you that murder is wrong, do you? As a child when I was taking cookies without asking, I tried to hide it. I knew taking something that I shouldn’t was wrong. The author of Romans would say, “My thoughts accused me.”

It is helpful that God’s commands are written on our hearts and in the Bible with the Ten Commandments. It makes each of us both aware and accountable for our actions. But knowing the law is only part of the matter. Keeping the law is what no one can do.

When teaching a lesson on the Ten Commandments Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish God’s law, but to fulfill it.” Jesus knew that no one could keep the law of God perfectly, so he came to do it for us. Through faith in Jesus we become “righteous in God’s sight.” This was the gospel or “good news” that the apostle Paul came to preach.

So the next time your conscience is bothering you, know that it is God’s law doing its work on your heart. At that same time remember Jesus, the one who takes your sin away.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for writing your law on my heart and giving it to me in the Bible. When I have done wrong, point me to Christ where there is forgiveness. Amen.

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Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to 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 infants, 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 brag about 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.”

Do you want to go to heaven?

God in heaven is holy, absolutely perfect. He says about heaven, “Nothing impure will ever enter it” (Revelation 21:27). And he makes it clear how to get there: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

So it makes sense that people would try to rely on the law of God to get to heaven. After all, God has given us his law, and we know that keeping the law pleases him. Some people even teach others to keep the law in order to get to heaven.

The trouble is that those teachers of the law don’t teach themselves. If they did, they would realize that they break it. It’s obvious to everyone but themselves. No one can keep the law perfectly. If those teachers actually applied the law to themselves, they would realize that they are not going to heaven by keeping it.

Jesus did keep the law perfectly. But rather than the glory of heaven he deserved, he suffered the punishment of hell for all of us who have broken the law. God made the one who had no sin to be sin for you (2 Corinthians 5:21). And then, in a breathtaking act of grace, God credited you with Jesus’ perfect life. You go to heaven through faith in Jesus, not through keeping the law.

Prayer: Lord, as I teach others your law, help me to apply it to myself, and to trust in you for my salvation. Amen.

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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 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 man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.

How do you show that you are a Christian? Is it by wearing a cross necklace, or by sporting a religious tattoo?

Before Jesus came, God told male believers to show that they were believers by becoming circumcised. Observant Jewish families made sure that their male babies were circumcised already in infancy. Circumcision became a sign of being faithful to God.

The problem is that people sometimes show outward signs that they are believers but do not act like it. They do not love God with all their heart. They do not join the people of God for worship. They do not show love to other people, even those who don’t deserve it.

Circumcision was meant to be an outward sign of inward faith in the coming Savior. Cross necklaces and religious tattoos are meant to be outward signs of inward faith in Jesus as Savior. But circumcision, jewelry, and tattoos will not save you.

Only Jesus can save you. He kept the written code of the law, outwardly and inwardly. God the Father praised him, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 17:5). How do you show you are a Christian? Trust Jesus!

Prayer: Holy Spirit, circumcise my heart, and help me to express my faith in Jesus by all that I do. Amen.

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Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

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About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.