Romans 13:1-14 Each day our national debt and the debts of many citizens are rising. The convenience of the credit card is sending many to a debtor's prison. I heard recently that the average credit card debt for the American household is $20,000. Can you imagine the interest that will accumulate if this debt is not paid off in a year's time? It is a terrible thing to be in bondage to financial debt. We all need to follow Paul's admonition in this passage "Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law" (v. 8).
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Psalm 22:19-31 Almost everyone in the United States is familiar with the famous sign-off of the commentator Paul Harvey as he finishes his news report. He says, "Now you know the rest of the story." In yesterday's reading we left the account of Jesus on the cross with the soldiers parting His garments. Today's reading tells the rest of the story and also shares how this wondrous story will be told to the whole world.
Psalm 22:1-18 The psalms David wrote were directed by the Holy Spirit, who knows the future. David was inspired by the Holy Spirit in this psalm to prophetically write about Jesus' death and His mission on earth. We know that as Jesus was dying on the cross, He cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" Jesus was quoting from this psalm. David writes in this psalm about the piercing of His hands and feet. We know this did not happen to David, but it did happen to Jesus Christ. David in the spirit saw the scene of the cross, and he recorded what he saw and heard.
Romans 10:13-11:12 Paul continues his discussion about what it takes to be saved. He says, "For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13). Then Paul shares how it will be impossible for people to call upon the name of the Lord if they have never heard the gospel. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!" (vv. 14-15).
Romans 9:25-10:12 As I read this passage I see in my mind's eye the religious Jews in Israel as they bobbed back and forth, their prayer shawls waving gently with their movements while they prayed earnestly at the Western Wall. I just returned from Israel and saw this same scene, which always brings tears to my eyes. They are praying for Messiah—when Messiah has already come. These Jews have great zeal in their religious activity, but they are without knowledge. Paul recognized this. He says about them, "For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God" (Rom. 10:2-3).
Psalm 19:1-14 I go on a treasure hunt every day. As I read the Bible through each year, I always find a new nugget I missed in the years past. The Bible is a treasure chest filled with gold and jewels. The gold and jewels found in the Word of God are His promises and principles. The principles are the statutes and commandments of the Lord, and they keep us from evil. The promises are given to those who fear the Lord. The fear of the Lord is clean and endures forever.
Romans 8:24-39 Without faith it is impossible to please God. By grace are we saved through faith, and this faith is not of ourselves. Instead it is a gift of God. Therefore none of us can boast. This passage in Romans says that we are saved by hope. Paul writes, "For we are saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for why does one hope for what he sees?" (v. 24). Another passage in Hebrews gives the definition of faith: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1).
Psalm 18:16-34 In Psalm 18, there is one verse that says it all: "As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him" (v. 30). To walk through this life with God's success, we must walk in His ways, live by His Word and trust in Him. A successful person in God's view is one who walks daily in God's Spirit and obeys His Word. The only work we do on this earth that will remain eternally are those things done not by our own self-effort but by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God. Paul says it well when he declares it is grace that labors through him.
Romans 7:15-8:8 How on earth can we be like Jesus? To be like Jesus and to glorify Him on earth is one of the main purposes God has for us in this life. How often do I fall short of demonstrating His love, mercy and forgiveness to others? When I fail in my daily witness, there is but one hope. This hope is Jesus Christ. I have to abandon my flesh to Him and allow Him to conform me to His image. I cannot do it, and the more I try the more I fail.
Proverbs 19:22-23 This proverb speaks of something that will cause us to be continually satisfied. That special satisfying something is called "the fear of the Lord." When we fear the Lord, which means to love Him and to keep His Word, we will abide satisfied.
Romans 6:1-23 One of the things men rebel against is serving a master. Many rebel against serving God because they feel they will not be able to do their own thing. What rebellious people do not realize is that even though they are not serving God, they are serving another master when they do their own thing. When we resist God, we submit to Satan. When we submit to God, we are able to resist Satan.
Romans 5:3-21 Most Christians I know want to grow more like Jesus daily. They want to be able to love as Jesus loved. The school of love, however, could be called the school of hard knocks. If all is going well in our lives, those who watch our lives will say, "It's easy for them to be loving because they have never had the problems I have experienced." It is when we go through hard knocks—tribulations, trials, testings and temptations—that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. It is when our own human love has reached its limit that God steps in and disperses His love within our hearts to equip us to dispense His love to others. Experiencing the love of God is only possible for us when we become totally dependent upon Him. When we recognize that without Him we can do nothing, then we recognize also that without His love in our hearts we have no quality love to give to others.
Proverbs 19:17 Two of the treasures we can take to heaven when we die are people we have witnessed to and the Word of God we have hidden in our hearts. There is another way we can invest in God's kingdom here on earth and at the same time add to our heavenly bank account. Today's reading reveals this way. It says, "He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord; and He will pay back what he is given."
Romans 4:1-13 In one of the Gospels Jesus was asked the question, "What must we do to do the works of God?" His reply was, "Believe on Him." Paul makes it clear in this passage that we are justified by faith, not by works. He used Abraham as an illustration. If his works justified Abraham, then he would take the glory himself. God considered Abraham a righteous man simply because he believed. Paul also speaks of David and how he writes in a psalm about the blessedness of the man who is counted righteous not because of his works, but because of his belief and trust in God. If we consider ourselves as working for the Lord, then we are working out of debt, not out of grace.
Romans 3:9-31 Yesterday we talked about what righteous people can do to save a city and nation. In today's reading we hear Paul's dramatic statements "There is none righteous, no, not one" (v. 10). "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (v. 23).
Psalm 11:1-7 The Scriptures are full of the blessings that come to those who live righteously. There are many promises in the Word like, "The fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." Other passages say that righteousness exalts cities and nations. Sodom would have been spared if God had found ten righteous men residing there. Without righteous men, our nation also would not exist. It is because there are still righteous people left in this nation that the United States has not experienced the full measure of God's judgment. The righteous can do much, but when the foundations are destroyed, the righteous are unable to do much to save a nation, city or family.
Romans 2:1-23 There are only a few things we are permitted to judge according to the Scriptures. We are permitted to judge ourselves, to judge or know others by their fruits and to judge the times. We are warned by Paul and Jesus of the danger of judging others. The reason it is so dangerous to judge another is because if we misjudge or accuse another, we open ourselves up to the very same things we are judging in another person. We can judge a person's actions, but we cannot judge their motivations. Only God can know the hearts of men. Sometimes the Lord may give us discernment about what is in another person's heart, but this knowledge is not to cause us to judge, but instead to cause us to pray for that person.
Romans 1:18-32 This passage in Romans gives the cycle of unbelief. Unbelief is the root of all sin, and we see the progressive degradation of sin that befalls a person who does not believe in Jesus. The first step in unbelief is the denial that God exists. People often ask me if God is merciful, how could He send anyone to hell who has never heard the gospel? My response is always that even nature reveals there is a God; no one will go to hell unless they choose to. Originally hell was reserved for the devil and his angels, but because of the Fall there will be people in hell now who have chosen not to believe. Paul concludes that such people are without excuse because the invisible things of God from the creation of the world are clearly seen. Paul then shares the cycle of unbelief and how it always leads to eternal death instead of eternal life. People who remain in unbelief do the following:
Romans 1:1-17 Jesus made it clear while He ministered near the Galilee and in Jerusalem that He came to minister first to the house of Israel. This was His first charge by the Father. He carried the message of the kingdom of God to the Jew first. We have the same commission Jesus had, but many of us have forgotten to go to the Jew with the liberating message of the gospel. Paul in this passage reminds us of our commission to the Jew first (v. 16).
Acts 28:1-31 We saw yesterday how 276 souls aboard Paul's ship were spared. In today's reading we see how Paul's life was spared. All those on board the ship swam to the island of Malta, where they were well received by the natives there. There was a chill in the air, and when Paul gathered sticks for a fire, a snake bit him. No harm came to Paul, and this was a great witness to all present.
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