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Focal Passage:  Romans 9:1-13

Romans 9:6-8 “But it is not as though the word of God has failed.  For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’  This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”

Again, it is through answering the question as to whether or not God’s promises failed to Israel when they rejected Jesus that Paul will tackle the greater issues on God’s sovereignty in election.  He begins the answer by explaining why Israel’s rejection of Christ did not mean that God failed in His promises to them.  He reminds them that even in the beginning of Abraham’s line that not all of them were children of the promise; only those from Isaac were.  This symbolized from the onset that God’s plans were for His promised children, as Isaac was the promised child.  His plans were not for children made so simply by flesh alone, as with Ishmael’s descendants.  God has always had a remnant of people who He chose to be His, even in His promises to Abraham.  He never acts out of His character and He never fails.  Even in His words to Abraham He was proclaiming that He had a people, a people that would be chosen by Him, not by human inheritance or chance.

Study/Meditation:  Read the discourse between Jesus and some Pharisees in John 8:31-47.  What did He have to say about the true children of Abraham?  How is Paul reiterating these points in Romans 8:6-8?

*Father, Your ways are not my ways and Your thoughts are not my thoughts.  Help me, in my limited understanding, to see Your grace in Your sovereignty.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 9:1-13

Romans 9:4-5 “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.  To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever.  Amen.”

Ask any number of men or women in the street today who claim to be Christians why they think they are, and they’re answers may be something like:  “I go to church every Sunday.  I give to the church and volunteer in the nursery every six weeks.”  Often we mistake the evidence of our Christianity by what we do in the church or the very fact that we belong to one.  The Jews had mistaken the privileges they had enjoyed for thousands of years as testament to their inheritance of God’s kingdom.  The truth is that it is only by grace that we are saved, and that not of ourselves—that includes if and where we attend church and what we may or may not do while there. (Ephesians 2:8)  Paul’s sadness here is that the very people who knew God didn’t recognize God when He stood among them.  Their claim to Him was purely categorized in the physical, whereas, like ours, their only claim to God should have been because He chose to give to them His immeasurable grace.  Our song must always be, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”

Study/Meditation:  Attending, belonging to, and supporting a local church is most definitely biblical, but it doesn’t save us.  What is the correct view of church in regards to salvation by grace alone?

*Father, it is Your amazing grace that saved me.  Help me remember that it is nothing of me but all of You.  Amen.

By Brenda Marlin

(Taken from excerpts found in Brenda’s forthcoming book that takes readers on a journey to understand God’s powerful transformational love.)

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Trust is a big deal these days, or should I say, mistrust? Broken trust affects everything and causes us to become fearful, anxious, angry, bitter and self-protective.  Unless, we are able to hand off our offenses to God through forgiveness, we can get thrown off course and miss out on the peace and joy of the Lord in the midst of our trials and sufferings. When we trust our own hearts, they fail us, but when we learn in faith to trust God, our hope can overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit. That may seem easier said than done, but if we will take one step at a time, we will eventually find ourselves on a straight path filled with God’s purposes and blessings, knowing that God can be trusted with all things. If you live with much hurt and disappointment and don’t know how to trust, ask Him to show you how. He loves you and wants you to know Him in this important way.

Trusting God can be a daunting task for many, given how broken trust by others creates a negative road map of understanding within our logical minds. But, I have great news for you; God is greater than our worrisome thoughts and difficult experiences. He invites us to trust Him with all our heart, so that we can learn to depend upon Him for our answers.

I have learned over time that acknowledging that He is Lord over all my life and circumstances brings His supernatural power that supersedes all my weaknesses. Looking back over how He has taught me how to do this, I have learned many lessons on my journey, many were hard lessons and some were easy (I tend to be hardheaded, so it takes a little more grit and a few more lessons to get it through my head). Overall, when I learned to lean upon Him, I found Him to be faithful to show me the way. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, but I can assure you, He can do the same for you.

Childhood abuse robbed me of the gift of trust. The heart of my soul stopped beating and turned cold. By all accounts, I looked alive outside, but inside, I felt ripped apart and ashamed. Drowning in the murky brown waters of betrayal and abandonment, I grabbed hold of unhealthy passerby’s who only offered a temporary life preserver from the negative feelings I had about myself.

Playing relationship games my heart was not prepared to handle, I learned firsthand, misery truly attracts the company of other dismal souls. Foolish agreements made to satisfy the selfish needs of others brought upon me an avalanche of painful experiences. Misplaced trust only reinforced the stinging punishment of betrayal I felt in my heart.

I can’t trust anyone! I can only trust myself!

As I built an almost impenetrable stony wall of self-protection around my heart, true love evaded me. I reached out for anything that appeared to bring some fun and relief into my life, but in the end, all things seemed to become meaningless acts of self-preservation. Then one day, a miracle happened, true love broke through my fortress. It had to be supernatural; it had to be stronger than the fortification I created to protect it. It was Jesus!

I don’t trust You! How could you allow a child to endure such things?

“I love you, Brenda.”

Then, show me how much you love me.

At the time, it seemed to be a stupid request to ask of Him. After all, I knew the words to the song, Jesus Loves Me (by Anna Bartlett Warner), but deep down, I knew my heart didn’t really connect with His love.

It was if He had waited with great anticipation for my invitation. Over the next few weeks and months, Jesus poured out His love into my broken heart through the love of His people and His creation. Unexpected calls of encouragement came. Opportunities for healing my broken soul brought forth new hope. A rainbow appeared in the sky after a big storm like a big colorful bow wrapped around God’s promised gift of love for me. It all came pouring in like a tidal wave of fresh water crashing onto my war-torn soul. After each new encounter of God’s love, I would hear in my heart, “See, that’s how much I love you.” With each demonstration of His love, I felt an increasing unquenchable thirst for wanting more.

Like a divine set up, next came a desire to want to know Him more through the study of His written word. As more proof of God’s love working through His children, within a short span of time, new friends came into my life. One gave me a brand new study Bible. She exuded love and mercy, reflecting that which she had been given from God. The Lord sent another friend who loved discussing what she learned about God through His Word. These discussions caused me to want to dig deeper into knowing Him. Then came yet another friend who challenged me to make a commitment to God to read the Bible at least five minutes a day. I took that challenge which changed my life forever.

Captured by the lavish love of Jesus, my eyes are opened; my heart has been awakened and beats again! All else pales in comparison. Over time, I learned that trust is developed through knowing who He really is and experiencing Him in an ever-flowing loving relationship. My soul was empty, anemic and misdirected until Jesus rend the heavens to come to my rescue. His love and mercy met my misery and now, my heart and soul are filled with His love and purpose. I soar in His presence and my song rises up to bless and honor the One who paid the price for my life with His own. He has conquered death, so I can live with Him forever in His kingdom.

Your story may not be like mine, but like me, perhaps you have experienced an inability to trust God for one reason or another. By saying, “yes” to His plan of salvation and asking Him to be Lord of your life, you too can experience His everlasting love and fullness of life. He is extending His offer of eternal salvation to all who believe and say, “yes, I do!” Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

John 3:16-18 NIV

If you have never said “yes” to God’s plan of salvation, check out this link, which will help you walk through it. http://billygraham.org/story/have-you-heard-the-good-news-of-salvation/

Trusting God completely is possible; after all, you trust Him for your salvation, so just take the next step and ask Him to show you how trust Him with your whole life. Make Proverbs 3:5-6 a life verse to remember and then believe in faith that His love, mercy and grace will show you the rest of the way.

I’m praying you receive an even deeper revelation, wisdom and understanding of His everlasting love for you, so that you may know Him better.

 

Focal Passage:  Romans 9:1-13

Romans 9:3 “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”

Do our hearts break as Paul’s did over the lost souls who do not know Christ?  Though Paul attests to and confirms over and over that God is supremely sovereign and that He elects His children, bestowing grace where He chooses, the apostle does not sit back callously and “let things be.”  His heart is utterly broken over his Jewish brothers and sisters, so much so that he says he would give up his own place in God’s kingdom so that they might know Him.  Knowing the grace God freely chooses to give to His children should bring us to such a point of tenderness and humility that we overflow with grace toward others, most especially toward those who do not know Him.  It is extremely healthy and spiritually introspective for each of us to examine our hearts daily to be sure they are as tender towards others as Paul’s was.  After all, without an exponentially larger tenderness from our Father, we too would be lost.

Study/Meditation:  Read what Jesus taught in Luke 6:27-36.  What did our Savior teach us about showing mercy to even our enemies?

*Father, give me a heart full of mercy to all of mankind, having a tender disposition toward those who need You as I do.  Thank You for showing me so much more than this first.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 9:1-13

Romans 9:1-2 “I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.”

Before moving headlong into what is likely one of the most difficult chapters in all of God’s Word, we must identify Paul’s purpose for writing it.  He was dealing with a very specific and significant question from his fellow Israelite brothers and sisters and in this question also lays the underlying question of many today, both Gentile and Jew.  The question was:  “If God chose Israel to be His and He promised Abraham and David and Isaac and others that Israel was His chosen people, then why when this supposed Messiah came to bring back the Davidic kingship did the Israelites reject Him?  Did God’s promises?”  And in Paul’s answer comes the questions for today.  His answer to the Jews was:  “The only way to understand this is to understand God’s individual electing love.  God’s sovereign grace is God’s sovereign choice.”  Consequently, in answering the questions about God’s promises to the Jews, Paul explains the importance of understanding election and sovereignty to the rest of us.  His introduction in verses 1 and 2 is simply an expression of how much his heart hurt at his fellow kinsmen’s choices regarding Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
The following days of our study will be supremely significant in understanding this important doctrine.  Let us prayerfully move forward and embrace the sanctity of God’s Word and the truth of what He tells us in it.  Let our hearts be moved just as Paul’s was for the purity that lies within this Book.

Study/Meditation:  What is your first reaction to the words “election” and “predestination” as they appear in the Bible?  On what do you place this view?

*Father, open my eyes to Your Word.  Give me the ability to see past my own heart into the truth of Yours.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 8:31-39

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It seems as if hope can be dashed in an instant.  Oftentimes it looks like there is no security in anything.  Kingdoms collapse, dreams are shattered, people leave or disappoint.  On what can we always count?  What can never be driven from us?  Paul has already told us in verse 35 that nothing earthly can separate us from God’s love, and now in verses 38-39 he tells us that nothing even in the spiritual realm can separate us from the love of the Father.  God loved us, He chose us to be His before the foundation of time.  Everything that is only exists because He deems it to be so.  If we have been set aside as His children, His chosen ones, then we must let our hope and our security and our assurance be in the fact that that love overarches His creation.  Nothing—absolutely nothing—can separate us from Him.  This is hope.  This is security.  This is love.

Study/Meditation:  Read Ephesians 6:10-20.  How do these instructions from Paul correlate to what he is reminding us of here in Romans?

*Father, thank You for loving me so fully and completely and securely.  Help me to remember to set my hope and my mind on the steadfastness of Your great love.  Amen.