25/02 – 03/03: Chapter 15

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You will bring God glory when you accept and welcome one another as partners, just as the Anointed One has fully accepted you and received you as His partner. (Romans 15:7, The Passion)

There is great power in partnership. It has always existed within the Godhead. As the puritans said, ‘God is, in Himself, a sweet society’. So much a part of who God is, that once He had created Adam, God then announced His intention for him to have a partner, in order that he too would know the joy of a covenant partnership.

In the preceding part of Paul’s letter, we heard his appeal for us to bear with one another, especially when we don’t feel like it. Now Paul holds up the example of Christ (as he did for the church in Philippi when writing to them only a couple of years previously) – who as ever – holds the key to what is required of us. And he said to the saints in Ephesus, … ‘Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love.’ (Ephesians 4:32, The Passion). The measure of revelation of God’s grace toward you, will determine the measure of grace you’re able to grant to others, on a daily basis.

But this is only the starting point in what God has planned for us. Christ has not only forgiven us; He has brought us into a working partnership with Him. Not only that, He has called us into working partnerships with each other; that together we become more than the sum of our parts, through the resulting synergy when mutually submitted gifts are harnessed together, as they are directed by the Holy Spirit (1 Co 12:11). In verse 6, Paul speaks of this, ‘with a unanimous rush of passion, you will with one voice glorify God.’ (The Passion).

The same Greek word (homothumadon – pronounced “hom-oth-oo-mad-on” – if you wanted to have a go at saying it!), Luke uses no less than eleven times (in the book of Acts) as his refrain to describe the early church being of ‘one mind’, or ‘one accord’. It comes from two other Greek words, meaning to “rush along” and “in unison”. The image is almost musical, like the different sounds of an orchestra, which while different, harmonize in pitch and tone, under the expert direction of its conductor the Holy Spirit.

God has brought you into His orchestra, handed you an instrument made especially for you, and stands ready to give you your cue. Are you ready and willing to play your part?

Christopher

Pray.

Holy Spirit of God, I thank you for bringing me into partnership with Jesus; for making His home in my heart.

Lord, as I submit my heart to His and learn to live in synch with Him, I would ask that you enable me to fully explore and enjoy the partnerships you have planned for me with others in the body of Christ.

I pray that this week I will enable others to fulfil their God-given potential, and in so doing find my own place and purpose in your wonderful Kingdom.

Amen

18/02 – 24/02: Chapter 14

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Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently. (Romans 14:1 The Message)

I do love how Paul gets right into the nitty gritty of the real issues that we face, when we are part of God’s Kingdom community, don’t you!?

In describing how we are to relate to fellow believers, Paul tells us to ‘Treat them gently.’ What a wonderful way to express our covenant love for one another! To treat one another gently, even when, or especially when we don’t feel like they deserve it!

It’s one thing to talk about unity, and how we are joined with one another as the Body of Christ; it’s ano ther thing all together to live it out! God is calling us to show grace and mercy to one another in the same way that we ourselves have received them. We are to be as generous with one another, as God has been with us. For example, in Colossians 3:13b we are told to ‘Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.’! (The Message)

The Holy Spirit helps us to maintain unity, but we can help ourselves here too. One way is to be mindful that we just don’t know what other people have had to face in their lives. Perhaps they have suffered hurts, frustrations, disappointments and pain that we ourselves have never had to deal with? Rather than trying to impose our point of view, we are encouraged to try and see things from their perspective.

God has called us to prefer one another. Think the best of one another. Build up and not tear down. Encourage and not condemn. To love unconditionally. To give up our own rights if it means it will help another to not fall, or stumble, or lose heart. This can be a very challenging, but when we do it, our fellow Christian brother or sister is helped; and we learn to live as those who are gentle and kind, so that God is incredibly blessed.

Rich

Pray.

Lord I thank you that You saved me, cleansed me, made me right before You. Thank You for filling me with Your wonderful Spirit and adding me carefully into your family.

Please help me to be kind to all of my brothers and sisters. I ask that You give me Your love for them, that You clothe me with Your compassion and kindness. That You help me to relate to others with humility and quiet strength.

Lord Jesus, I pray that You will be glorified as others see the unity, love and care expressed between Christian brothers and sisters. That this testimony will be seen in my everyday life.

Amen

11/02 – 17/02: Chapter 13

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Obey the rulers who have authority over you. Only God can give authority to anyone, and He puts these rulers in their places of power. Romans 13 v 1 (CEV)

Well, this is timely! At a time when we in our nation are experiencing political turmoil and what seems like thousands and thousands of critical voices, on all sides of the current national debate, we have Paul’s instruction to believers written nearly 2,000 years ago to ‘obey the rulers who have authority over you’ and that ‘He [God] puts these rulers in their places of power’. Really? Well, yes, evidence for this outside of Paul’s writings is found in Daniel and John. Even though Daniel describes the deeds of very evil kings, he says of King Nebuchadnezzar that it is God who ‘removes kings and sets up kings’ (Daniel 2:21) and ‘The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will.’ (Daniel 4:32).   

Pilate said to Jesus, ‘Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?’. Jesus answered, ‘You would have no authority over me unless it had been given to you from above.’ (John 19 v 10). Therefore, if Pilate and Nebuchadnezzar were set in their places and given authority by God, even though they did much evil, then we have no reason to deny Paul’s assertion that ‘He puts these rulers in their places of power’.

As believers, God wants us to know something about authority. There is authority within the Godhead, in the church and indeed given to every believer. Speaking of the authority given to His followers, Jesus said ‘freely you have received, now freely give’ (Matthew 10 v 8). Authority used appropriately brings order, safety, and causes things to be established and developed.

How can we respond then to Paul’s instruction?

We should submit, as far as our consciences permit (-we can submit up to the point where continuing to submit would become disobedience to God). We should pay our taxes, keep the law of the land and honour and respect the governing authorities wherever we can.

We can pray. We can pray God’s blessing on national leaders, on nations and we can ask that God gives wisdom to those who regularly have to make large complex decisions, especially in the face of hostility and disagreement.

We can love. Verses 8 – 10 remind us that we should love one another first and foremost. Not just in the church, but outside too. This means loving those who have the loud hostile voices as well as the people we find it easy to get along with. We must let the Lord Jesus Christ be as near to us as the clothes we wear (v.14), and whilst the nations are in turmoil point the way to an eternal Kingdom.

Phil

Pray.

“My Father, I thank You today for those in authority over us in our nation. I acknowledge that they are in place at Your decree. I pray a blessing from heaven on our nation, on our rulers and those whose job it is to implement order and authority. I pray that You will give divine wisdom and preserve peace in turbulent days.
I thank You that there is an eternal Kingdom of which I am a part and therefore I choose today to live in the light, clothed with the authority given to me by Jesus”

04/02 -10/02: Chapter 12

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So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, NCV)

If there was ever a scripture to live your life by in a modern world, this is it. The book of Proverbs in chapter 23:7 confirms this, “For as [a man] thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB). Therefore, if we truly believe everything written in the Bible (2Tim 3:16-17), we must acknowledge the fact that the way we think can have a huge impact on who we are and who we become.

We are surrounded by the problems of the world which shape our thinking. Although technology was not available when Paul wrote this, he clearly had insight into how the world would be 2,000 years later. Our smartphones continually buzz with news updates; car-radios interrupt us on the hour with news bulletins; front pages of newspapers bring us captured photographs of tragedy and TV news channels bring us live pictures from troubled spots from around the world. It’s no coincidence then that we find ourselves surrounded by bad news which then shapes the way we think, and therefore who we are.

A world transmitting messages of negativity undoubtedly has the ability to create an environment of anxiety, depression and ultimately fear. Fear for our health, fear for our finances, fear of being lonely and fear about the future. I am so glad God sent His Son to give us freedom from fear by giving us a hope and a future. The positive message Paul describes here, endorses and helps us to understand the meaning of faith in a new dimension when we choose to follow Jesus and accept His Authority over our lives. He goes on to say, “Be changed within by a new way of thinking”. When we give our whole lives to Him, it changes us on the inside.

Sometimes it’s a choice to think and behave differently but the outcome is hope, faith and positivity. We choose to think positively in contradiction to the world’s voice; we choose to arm ourselves with the full armour of God. In that respect, in Ephesians 6, Paul reminds us that we are in a spiritual world and our actions therefore have spiritual consequences. He writes, “be strong in the Lord and in his great power.” (v10); “Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world.” (v12) Paul ends this segment by writing,Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need”. (v18).

Quite simply, the Bible tells us that we need to think differently to the rest of the world. Pray and read the Word, before turning to the newspaper. Listen to and sing worship songs instead of, or before, watching the TV news. Silence the news bulletins on your smartphones. It’s certainly worth thinking about…

Richard P

Pray.

“Lord Jesus, I choose to put on the armour You freely give me and ask through Your Holy Spirit that You would help me to see and think like You do.
I repent of any wrong thoughts that have caused me to be distracted from Your Sovereignty and who You are in every situation I face. Where there is fear in my life, I ask that You replace it with peace. Where there is pain, I ask that You replace it with love. Where there is sadness, I ask that You replace it with the joy that can only come from You.
You are my source in everything, and from this moment onwards, I choose to think differently and fix my eyes and my thoughts on who You are and the great plan You have for me.
Amen”

28/01 -03/02: Chapter 11

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In one way or another, God makes sure that we all experience what it means to be outside so that he can personally open the door and welcome us back in.

(Romans 11:32, The Message)

What does it mean to be an outsider? As Paul draws to a close his explanation about God’s dealings with the nation of Israel, his conclusion puts grace at the center of God’s plan for those born inside God’s chosen nation (with its heritage of patriarchs and promises), and those born on the outside (Matthew 8:10-12)). Many in Israel had become complacent and entitled, relying upon birthright instead of belief. Even within the nation of Israel itself there were insiders and outsiders. The insiders were usually part of the establishment and happy with the status quo, but the outsiders were often treated as unclean, undesirable and unwanted.  Jesus came for the outsider (Luke 5:32, The Message).

From God’s perspective we were all outsiders (Romans 3:23), cut off from the relationship we were created for. It is only when the Holy Spirit shows us our true status that, like the prodigal son, we can leave behind the pig pen and head home to our Father. Our standing in God’s house is not based on the birthright we threw away, but the grace which brought us back home. And for the rest of eternity it will remain this way.

So having once been outsiders, we know what it feels like. We live in a world full of outsiders, waiting for us to reach out to them with God’s love. Jesus was constantly drawn to the outsider, the misunderstood, and the maligned (Mark 1:40-45, 2:15-17, 5:25-34). The Holy Spirit revealed to Him the heart of every such person, looking beyond the mask they were wearing, and ministering to their true need. He took what was wild and uncultivated, and grafted it back in to God’s beautiful garden.

In His footsteps you are walking today, through an open door, armed with an invitation from the Father for the outsiders to come home.

Christopher

Pray.

“Lord Jesus, I thank you today that by your grace you have brought me home to you. I pray that you will enable me to see into people’s hearts today by your Holy Spirit; to see the outsiders around me, whom you have called home, and equip me to overflow with your grace and love to them.”

21/01 -27/01: Chapter 10

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How can people invoke His name when they do not believe? How can they believe in Him when they have not heard? How can they hear if there is no one proclaiming Him? How can someone give voice to the truth if they are not sent by God? As Isaiah said, “Ah, how beautiful the feet of those who declare the good news of victory, of peace and liberation.”’

(Rom 10:14-15, ‘the voiceTM’)

Paul wholeheartedly believed in the truth and the power of the Gospel. He was totally convinced about the good news of Jesus Christ. Why? Because he had personally experienced its transforming power first hand! It had turned his world upside down, and he had now dedicated his life to travelling the world to preach this good news. Everywhere he went he declared that Jesus was alive, that He was Lord and only He could save.

Now he writes to fellow believers, to people who, like us, have heard, believed and been saved by the Good News. He is exhorting them, and exhorting us, to be the messengers of hope, freedom, liberty and life.

Just think for a moment about those messengers who shared the good news with you. They were faithful to deliver the unique, eternal, potent message of truth. Before they had told us this message; we were clueless, helpless and hopeless! Yet when we heard, we believed, and we continue to believe and be convinced of the Good News.

Although this happened to us, we can often doubt that others will believe it themselves. We question whether family members, friends, neighbours, colleagues, or anyone else will believe. Sometimes this even stops us from sharing the good news in the first place!

Let’s allow Paul’s words to challenge us, and to push us outwards again. To recognise that the message we carry and declare is truly good news to everyone; and as we go and speak it out, we truly are those with beautiful feet! Let the good news you carry be shared freely and gladly to those God has placed around you today.

Rich

Pray.

“Lord Jesus thank you for saving me. You have transformed my life, and I am so grateful that I know You. Thank you for those faithful people who shared the good news with me.

Holy Spirit I ask that you give me fresh boldness to speak out, a renewed love and compassion for the lost, a heightened awareness of the opportunities that come my way, and greater faith in the power of the Gospel!

As I declare the good news, let faith come into the hearts of those who hear it.

Amen”

14/01 -20/01: Chapter 9

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This means that the children born in the usual way are not the children of God; instead, the children born as a result of God’s promise are regarded as the true descendants.   (Romans 9:8:, Good News Bible)

We have arrived in our journey through Romans, at a departure point. What does God’s plan of salvation mean for Paul’s fellow Israelites, the Jews? This was important to Paul and a source of pain in his heart (vv. 1-4); and so he takes a sidetrack for a couple of chapters, to explore this issue with us. Not to bring his fellow Jews back into the center of everything, but instead to illustrate God’s nature, through His redemptive plan, specifically how He chose to deal with this ‘stiff-necked people’ (Ac 7:51-53). It speaks of God’s sovereignty and the fairness of His mercy.

We saw earlier in Romans how neither ancestry, nor willpower were enough to make anyone righteous before God. And that all along, faith alone was the only criteria. Paul states clearly (v.8) that those born ‘in the usual way’ (i.e., into the right family, or nation) were never God’s true children. Instead, it was always children born ‘as a result of God’s promise’.  Those of us privileged to be called children of God (Jn 1:2) are certainly not usual – we’re unusual! In fact, we’re miracles babies.

As God’s true children, we are each born as a result of God’s promise. Each one of us has been called into God’s family, because God spoke a promise over our lives. However unlikely, undeserving, or even unwilling we might have been, His promise has reigned supreme over our destiny, to call us home to Him. Each of us came from a different place, and has a different story, which makes us unique. The amazing promise of one Seed to come (Ga 3:16 – Christ), the children who would come through that one Seed, would be many; and they would be as variegated as God’s creation, to reflect God’s very own nature (Ep 3:10).

It is as though God spoke one promise, and yet within that one promise were many promises; one for each of us. And God never made a promise He couldn’t keep.

Christopher

Pray.

“Father, I thank you for the promise You spoke over my life, before I was born. Thank you for calling me your child, for Your sovereign hand in my life. I pray that you would reveal to me afresh the absolute certainty of your promise over me, and the depth of your love for me.”

07/01 -13/01: Chapter 8

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The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Romans 8:11, NLT)

It is the great privilege and joy of every Christian to know the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus described him as the parakletos (John 14:16 & 26, 15:26, 16:7); the One who ‘comes alongside’.  Different versions of the Bible translate this phrase as the Advocate (NLT), Comforter (Young), Counsellor (Holman), Helper (NASB, ESV), Intercessor, Strengthener or Standby (Amplified), or – simply – as The Friend (Message).  The more we know Him the more we discover that He is all of these and so much more …!

The eighth chapter of Romans contains 21 references to the Spirit; more than any other chapter in the New Testament, and provides ample evidence of each of these roles, as Paul sets forth before us a wonderful picture of the life that is possible for each one of us …!

In this fantastic chapter, we discover that the Spirit truly is our Greatest Friend: bringing life and liberty to every believer (verses 1-13), adopting us into God’s family (verses 14-25) and working on our behalf as an Intercessor (verses 26-27).  It’s no wonder, therefore, that having described the ministry of the Spirit towards us, Paul concludes the chapter by assuring us that God works all things work together for our good (verses 28-30) and that since God is for us, absolutely nothing can stand against us or separate us from His love (verses 31-39).  

Let these life-changing truths soak into you deeply and thoroughly this week!  Enjoy reading the Word. But more than that: enjoy your fellowship with the Spirit: talk to Him as you read about Him; worship and draw close to Him.  He is our Greatest Friend and wants to bring us into a present-day experience of all the truths of Romans chapter 8.

Be very blessed.

Much love

David

Pray.

Lord Jesus.  Thank you for sending Your Spirit to live and work in Me.  I want to be totally filled with Him, and so ask you today to show me anything in my life that is inhibiting His work in Me.  Holy Spirit, please fill me today, and every day.  Please help me to keep such a short account with the Father, that there’s nothing hanging around in my life to quench You, resist You, or grieve You in any way.  I want to live filled with the Spirit; a fruitful, powerful life as a ‘son of God’.  Amen!

31/12 – 06/01: Chapter 7

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So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ… 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.
(Romans 7:4&6, NLT)

Imagine, suggests Paul at the start of Romans 7, being married to ‘Mr Law’. Mr Law has a set of rules for life and insists that you live by them too. You can’t actually say that they are bad rules, in fact, they all seem very good. But Mr Law does not lift a finger himself to help you – he just spends all his time pointing out your many faults. It’s a hopeless relationship. And because you are married to the finger-pointing Mr Law, you are bound to him until one of you dies! Oh, and did I mention that Mr Law will not die anytime soon? (see Matthew 5 v 18).

Not only does Mr Law’s criticism bring no hope and no peace, he also seems to make matters worse. You see, his constant pointing out of the rules means that there are things you shouldn’t be doing, that perhaps you had not even considered doing before. There is something within the sinful nature which instinctively wants to rebel against conforming to someone else’s rules, in much the same way as a trivial ‘Keep off the grass’ notice will launch a tirade of questions in your head; ‘why should I keep off?’, ‘whose grass is it anyway?’, ‘could going on the grass be fun?’, ‘what if I do go on the grass?’ and so on.

But, says Paul in Romans 7 v 4 – 7, you can be freed from your binding relationship with Mr Law because a death has occurred and it’s not Mr Law’s death – it is your own! (v4). By calling on the name of Jesus and our identification with Him in His death, our old self is put to death, so we are now united with the One who is raised from the dead; now we are ‘released from the law’ and ‘no longer captive to its power’. Now we can serve and honour God not by adherence to the law, but by ‘living in the Spirit’ (v6).

So, what is the point of the law? Is the law bad or even sinful? No – the law is good (see 1 Timothy 1 v 8 – 11). It shows us clearly what is sin, and what is not. Paul himself states that knowing the law showed him his sin. The law does not make us sinful, that is mankind’s natural state, but Paul goes further to explain that knowing the law made him realise how tragically terrible his sinful nature was. Moreover, its ultimate purpose, was to lead us to Christ, like a school teacher preparing us for what was to come next (Galatians 3 v24).

Naturally speaking, mankind is a slave to sin (v14) and no amount of trying to keep the law will change this. What are we to do? ‘Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?’ (v24) ‘Thank God!’ says Paul, ‘the answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord’.

Phil

Pray.

“Thank you, my Father, for the wonderful freedom to be found in not adhering to a set of rules but rather by living life in the Spirit. Thank you that through Jesus you have made a way to be right with you where there was previously only frustration and enslavement to my sinful nature. May I never take this freedom lightly but rather continue to stir up your Holy Spirit, who lives within me, to honour you with my whole being. Amen.”

24/12 – 30/12: Chapter 6

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Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life                                                             (Romans 6:4, HCSB)

The magnificent, liberating message of Romans has been building layer-upon-layer!  Having explained that the whole world was facing the wrath and judgment of God because of sin (chs. 1-3), the great apostle has continued to show that we can be declared righteous by faith and by faith alone (chs. 4-5).  Because of sin death reigned over all humanity; but now because of the work of Christ we are freed from sin’s dominion and delivered from death to life (Ro 5:21).

Now in chapter 6 Paul takes the argument a step further, and we discover more incredible truths about this great salvation.  Showing us the centrality of baptism, he explains that we have been buried with Christ and raised-up to live a new life (6:3-4).  And it’s not just an “eternal life” that we will inherit one day, it’s a whole “new way of life” that we are destined to live and enjoy here and now!  In fact, it’s to be just like Christ’s resurrection-life! (6:5).  

All this is far more radical and powerful than most Christians ever realise!  Listen to these fantastic truths: Our old self has been crucified (6:6) – so that it no longer exists!  The ‘old you’ is dead and buried, and you can stop referring back to him or her; embrace your new life and your new way of life.  Sin’s dominion over you has been broken (6:6-7) – sin has no claim over you whatsoever; you’ve been set free! Therefore, we need no longer participate in any unrighteous acts (6:12-13); we have the power to say ‘no’ to sin and to live for God!  But even more than that: now that we’ve been freed from being slaves to sin, we find that we are in fact “enslaved to righteousness” (6:18), and “enslaved to God” (6:22). This is breathtaking: we are ‘enslaved’ to righteous living; this is our NEW WAY OF LIFE!  It is no longer inevitable that you will sin and displease God. Far from it: your new ‘natural’ inclination is to do right and live as a constant pleasure to God, who loves you and redeemed you by the blood of His precious Son!

This week, as you read and re-read Romans chapter 6, ask the Holy Spirit to impact you greatly and to embed these amazing truths into your heart and mind, so that your NEW WAY OF LIFE opens up into a greater reality and experience that ever before …!

David

Pray.

Thank you Father for the new way of life you’ve brought me into.  Thank you for this great salvation and for the power of your Spirit working in me to help me grasp these great truths.  Thank you for liberating me from slavery to sin and for enslaving me to all righteousness!  Empower me to bear much fruit in my life, this week and this month.  And throughout next year!  For the glory of your name and the building-up of your Church and the extension of your mighty Kingdom.  Amen.

17/12 – 23/12: Chapter 5

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For if by the one man’s offence death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17, NKJV)

If faith is the only way to live, as God intended for us, then it is fair to ask ourselves how we should deal with disappointments, failures and setbacks in our lives. They can have an undeniable impact on our faith.

Paul’s big opening statement (Rom 1:16) was that the gospel is God’s power for our salvation. Not just to redeem us from sin, but to enable us to live a victorious life, until we cross the finish line, as good and faithful servants. What sort of power is it?  The Greek word dunamis carries within it the idea of overcoming (an opposing force). The ‘good news’ of what Jesus has done for us, carries within it the power to overcome all opposition to its message. It can overcome anything that would seek to hold us back and drag us down; to stop us from making it across the finish line, by convincing us we’re not good enough; not strong enough to make it to the end.

Faith enables us to lay hold of this power, which raised Christ from the dead, by daring to believe it now resides within us! (Ephesians 1:19-20)

In the previous chapter Paul shows us how faith is really the only way to relate to God. In this chapter he shows us how faith is the force which overcomes in the face of opposition, hardship and challenge. These things can meet an unstoppable force of faith which resides within us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts (vv.1-5). In the heat of this battle He shapes and moulds our character; we can be forged by His refining fire into those who have, not just believed in the good times, but in the midst of the storm as well.

Paul illustrates this overcoming power, by pointing us to the fact that the power of Adam’s disobedience to bring ruin upon us all, was no match for the power of Christ’s obedience unto death. It is far harder to restore that which was beautiful and innocent, than it is to destroy it in the first place. Moreover, if Christ’s death had the power to rescue us from the overwhelming power of sin, how much more – now we are right with God and full of His Spirit – can we reign in life!  

Christopher

Pray.

“Lord Jesus, today I look to you, as the Author and Perfecter of my faith. I pray that you would open my eyes to the unstoppable power that is now in me, through your Holy Spirit.

I pray that He would strengthen me inwardly today, as I face challenges and those things in life which speak out against your promises over me. Let me reign in life today, as you intended when you conquered sin and death. Show me what it means to fix my eyes on you and not let anything shift them one inch!”

09/12 – 16/12: Chapter 4

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So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. (Romans 4:16, NLT)

What is God looking for? What is He interested in? It is very easy to fall into the trap of seeking to win God over by good works and ‘trying hard’. There may be nothing wrong with good works in themselves (although they can become a point of boasting!), but our human efforts are not what catches God’s eye.

God is on the lookout for faith. He is acutely sensitive to it, and He always responds to it. God is so blessed when He finds those who are willing to put their trust in Him, willing to hold onto His promises even when (or especially when) their fulfilment seem to be impossible.

Like us, Abraham was not perfect, but he certainly had faith. It was not his gender, or his nationality, it wasn’t his ancestry or even the physical mark of circumcision that set him apart; he was set apart by his faith. His faith in God made him righteous (Romans 4:3). He was righteous before he did anything because his faith preceded his actions, but that same faith led to action. His faith ensured that he obediently did all God asked of him.

All we do must be initiated, underpinned and finished by faith, a certain and confident trust in the promise, and (more importantly) in the Promiser. Faith sets us apart and places us into a prestigious family line that runs all the way back to Abraham, the father of faith!

Rich

Pray.

“Heavenly Father thank You for Your unfailing love and faithfulness. Thank You that Your promises are backed by all the honour of Your name.

Help me to live by faith every. Today I choose to put my faith in You again and to act on Your promises. Thank You that this blesses You, makes me righteous and enables me to do great things for Your glory!

I commit my day and my week to be one of action, power and living faith.”

03/12 – 09/12: Chapter 3

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Think.

Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25-26, ESV)

It is hard for us to understand what sin really is, because we were born into it. We were quite used to it, by the time we heard God’s good news throwing us a lifeline to be free of it. Sin is, quite simply, toxic. It cannot be ignored; it cannot be accommodated; and it is relentless.  It will not co-habit with anything or anyone else that seeks to bring it into submission. Sin is, in essence, independence from the Creator, who is the Author of life. It is the notion that we are better off without Him. And it is an act of pure suicide, from which there is no coming back. At least, not by our own efforts.

The central theme of Romans is God’s righteousness. Again, having been those used to sin, it can be hard to see what the big deal is here. However, if God were not righteous then all reality would collapse in on itself. If He were not utterly consistent in all He does, then all that exists could not be ‘upheld by the power of His word’ (Heb 1:3). His integrity sustains us all, saint and sinner alike.  He cannot stop being righteous, just because He loves us so much. But attributes are never in conflict.

So now we get to the hub of the matter. How does God rescue us from sin, whilst not compromising who He is? The answer is here in these verses. Jesus became the ‘propitiation’ (which is a ransom payment, atonement) taking sin upon Himself, so that which is toxic could be dealt with properly. Not sweeping it under the carpet; not turning a blind eye, which would not have dealt with the problem. In this way, God remained just and the justifier of us all.

That being said, it is often asked why God was able to tolerate sin before Jesus came to die for us? We know that the system of sacrifices under the Old Covenant were insufficient to deal with sin; like putting a plaster on a fatal wound. Paul answers this for us by using a legal term when he says that God had passed over former sins (v.25), which is ‘pretermission’. It means to be left out of a will; to be passed over and miss out on an inheritance. Our rightful inheritance was eternal separation from God, leading to death. But God deferred this punishment until the propitiation was made. Now instead we share in the glorious inheritance of God’s faithful Son!

Christopher

Pray.

“Lord, today as I consider Your total answer to mankind’s total need, I want to thank You that You did not, and could not overlook sin, but that instead you dealt with it, once and for all. I pray this week that You would reveal to me more fully the rich inheritance I now have in your righteousness through Jesus. Help me Holy Spirit, to live this day in the freedom He purchased for me by His blood.”

26/11 – 02/12: Chapter 2

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Think.

“No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people” (Rom 2:29, NLT)

In this chapter, the Apostle Paul deals with the sticking point of sin and judgement. He points out that we all have a sense of moral guidance even before we are saved. He outlines the pitfalls that we can all stumble into; of condemning others failings when we ourselves are also failing, and of trying to make ourselves right with God by comparing ourselves with others, or by our own human effort, self will and ‘trying harder’. Yet we are all in sin and will be judged and punished for it.

Paul clearly states that each one of us will be called to give an account before God for our life, ’Christ Jesus will judge everyone’s secret life’ (2:16). Our only hope to be made right with God and continue to live right before Him is to have our hearts circumcised. Circumcision was a physical act to be performed on all Jewish boys, where the foreskin (a part of the male body that was regarded as ‘unclean’) was removed to show obedience and allegiance to God, to represent being separated to Him as His people. However, what God was ultimately looking for is not an external operation (circumcision), rather an internal transformation.

Paul tells us that becoming part of God’s own people has nothing to do with our race, our ancestry, or a religious physical act. Rather it is only by faith in Jesus Christ, that our hearts are totally changed by the Holy Spirit. When we repent and put faith in Jesus, our hearts are cleansed, circumcised, made pure; and then it is by the Spirit that we live to please God above all others!

Rich

Pray.

Father, I thank you that you have saved me. Thank you for Your Son Jesus, thank You for Your Holy Spirit. I surrender my heart to You again today. Holy Spirit I ask that You would ensure that my wants, my desires, my thoughts and my will line up with Your wants, Your desires, Your thoughts and Your will. Help me to keep my heart surrendered to You, guard my heart I pray. Lord Jesus, I say again that I am here to live for you, God I want to seek your praise above all else. Amen.

19/11 – 25/11: Chapter 1

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Think.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes … a righteousness that is by faith, from first to last” (Rom 1:16-17, NIV)

In this opening chapter, the Apostle Paul makes an unassailable and uncompromising statement. The gospel he took out into the world is God’s total answer to man’s total need. For Paul, there is no question that the gospel offers salvation to every man and every woman; no question that all are in need of it; and no question that it can only help us, if we embrace it by faith, letting go of our own efforts to be righteous before God.

Paul’s writing style often involved making bold statements like this, and then spending time explaining them. In the following verses (vv.18-32) he goes on to explain that men and women have repeatedly turned their backs on God, choosing to rely on, and look to, created things, instead of the Author of Life itself. They burnt their bridges with Him, and with no way back have only sunk deeper and deeper into the sin that consumed them

The gospel is (literally) ‘good news’, because it announces what God has done to give us a way to come back home, to His loving arms. It requires nothing of us, no efforts to make it home, no immediate change in our character, or even our actions; we need only accept that He has already done it all for us, and surrender to Him.

Christopher

Pray.

“Father, I thank you that you made a way for me to come back home to you. Thank you that the righteousness Jesus has given me requires nothing from my own efforts. I pray that this week you will reveal to me afresh the power of the gospel to continually save me from myself, the old me, and bring me into the liberty that comes from being freed from my own efforts to please you.”