Monday, November 19, 2012

Reading through Romans: Chapters 1-part of 3

I've started going through Romans in little chunks in my quiet times. It's a book I know is full of power and conviction and bold truths, and I know I love it, so I really wanted to study it more deeply and thoroughly. Here's what I've been learning so far:

Romans 1:1-17- Introduction and the righteousness of God

  • Paul was called to be "set apart" and to be an apostle for the gospel of God. He was commissioned by Christ and called by His grace. The past month, the whole theme of "calling" has been hitting me over and over again. I've made a commitment to follow wherever the Lord calls me, and Paul did too. It's made this book a lot more relevant to me in where I'm at in life right now. We are all called to be servants and apostles and spreaders of the gospel of God in our lives.
  • Verse 7 says "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ." It's easy to skip over those little verses of blessings- they're all throughout the Bible. I actually read the notes on this one in my Bible though, and it's a lot more significant than I had realized. It combines the traditional Greek and Hebrew greetings, but connects them clearly to the only source of true grace (God's unmerited favor) and peace (total well-being and security that God provides). Pretty cool.
  • Verse 12 states Paul's desire to "be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." This resonated with me especially now as a small group leader. My role is to lead them and minister to them, but they always challenge me and encourage me in my faith and minister to me in return in how they share and grow and are involved in our small group and in our Bible studies. Faith isn't meant to be lived alone- we need support and community and accountability and mutual encouragement.
Romans 1:18-32- The unrighteousness of all people: Gentiles
  • Verse 21 says "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." Verse 25 says "They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator- who is forever praised." Powerful verses, and sadly, so true for so much of our society. So often, the created is worshiped and held in higher importance than the Creator. Most Americans, especially, know of God, but don't glorify Him or give thanks to Him as they should. I know I'm included in that group- it's the battle of our hearts as we live in this world but strive to not be of it, even when it seems easier to just live in the ways of the world. These verses were convicting for me- I want to wholeheartedly glorify Him, give praise to Him, and serve Him as Lord.
Romans 2:1-3:8- The unrighteousness of all people: Jews

Verses that stood out to me:
  • "God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance." -2:4
  • "You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself?" -2:21
  • "But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say?" -3:5
My rambling thoughts as I read through this passage:
  • We have no place or right to judge others because we are guilty of sin just as much. We judge others and somehow think God won't judge us in return. God's patience and kindness with us is not Him giving us the okay to keep doing what we're doing- it's Him giving us a chance to repent of what we've been doing. Eternal life will be given to those who persistently do good in seeking glory, honor, and immortality. Those good works are an overflow of genuine faith being lived out- not what creates faith. God is ultimately concerned with our hearts and not our bodies being circumcised or not. The true sign of belonging to God is not an outward mark on your body (circumcision) but a regenerating power of the Holy Spirit within (circumcision of the heart). If our hearts are seeking Him and obeying His laws, we will be declared righteous. Our current sinful state of unrighteousness and sin illuminates His perfect righteousness even more, which should stir our hearts and call us to repent and turn our hearts away from darkness and into His light.

Stay tuned as I continue through Romans! Read along and share your thoughts with me if you want, I'd love to hear other thoughts and perspectives!

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