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Focal Passage:  Romans 4:13-25

Romans 4:19 “He did not weaken in faith when he considered is own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.”

Most of us have heard of Norman Vincent Peale’s famous book, “The Power of Positive Thinking.”  His contention was that if we think positively about situations that the power in that thinking can change those situations for the better.  Abraham would not have believed nor followed that book.  He looked honestly at his circumstances.  Paul says that he “considered” them.  Contrary to what Mr. Peale may have claimed, Abraham didn’t do so because he was melancholy or negative.  Abraham knew that his faith was in God.  He looked straight at the adversities in his present circumstances and had faith that God would do as He said He would do.  Ligon Duncan said, “Faith uses divine, not human math.” Look at whatever adversity faces you today and see it.  Then see God, the Father of your very soul, who has promised to work all things together for your good to His glory.  That is the faith that Abraham demonstrated and it is the faith we are all called to in our lives.

Study/Meditation:  What comfort do you glean from passages like Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28?  How do these promises demonstrate God’s supreme love for you?

*Father, thank You for giving me examples such as Abraham in practical, saving faith.  Help me to live out that kind of faith in my life today.  Amen.

Focal Passage: Romans 4:13-2

Romans 4:18 “In hope he (Abraham) believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be.’”

What is faith? Paul begins to define it for us in the next few verses. Faith is hoping in God’s promises despite your circumstances, despite the fact that everything around you proves to the contrary. Faith is looking at your sin-filled life and knowing that there is no way forgiveness can come to you and still believing the promise that it has. Abraham had this kind of hope. He had hope against hope. He had been promised that he would father many nations, yet he was a 100-year-old man with no children married to a 90-year-old woman who apparently couldn’t have any. He could have no hope in his body or in Sarah’s body, but his hope in God existed against his hope in meager physical things, and God’s promises are true. They are true for us, as well. We have no hope in ourselves, but our hope is in God, against our hope in ourselves, and God’s promises are “Yes” and “Amen.” Hallelujah!

Study/Meditation: How can you better demonstrate your faith in God’s promises today? What has He promised you and how do you know He will keep His promises?

 

*Father, I know that You are a God who is faithful and that Your promises are true. Help me today to remember that You have a plan for me, for now and for eternity. Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 4: 13-25

Romans 4:17 “As it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.”

Once again Paul refers to the promise given to Abraham by God as recorded in Genesis 17:5 to confirm his point:  Salvation is for both Jew and Gentile alike.  God’s promise to Abraham was central to His promise to all people in that He promised Abraham that he would be the father of “all nations.”  God’s intention was always to bring in people from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9) Look at the fulfillment of that promise even today.  More than two billion people on the planet today worship the seed of Abraham!  And how has all of this come to fruition?  By works?  By ceremony?  By heritage?  No!  All of this is by grace through faith in Christ—“in the presence of the God in whom he believed.”  Abraham believed God’s promise that he and his wife, both old and barren, would be the beginnings of a people who would also believe and that these people would be from all the earth.  Glory to God!

Study/Meditation:  How might you explain this promise to an unbeliever?  Decide today how you would present the notion that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ.

*Father, thank You for Your promises and for the fulfillment of all of them.  You are great and glorious and the one, true God.  Let Your name be praised in all the earth!  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 4: 13-25

Romans 4:16 “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”

Because the law ultimately brings condemnation in that we cannot keep it to perfection, justification must depend on faith.  And not only that, Paul contends, but our justification must depend on faith because faith works with grace, not with law-keeping.  Grace is given without merit; it cannot be earned or paid for.  God’s grace was manifested in His gift of His own Son.  To try to look in the face of God’s grace and say, “Let me earn this” would be similar to someone bringing out their chest of family jewels worth a fortune and offering that to you as a gift, and your response being to reach in your pocket and pull out three crumpled dollar bills and saying, “No, no, let me give you something for that.”  There is nothing we have that can merit what we’ve been given.  That’s why we offer something outside of ourselves, faith in God’s promise, in response to His gift of grace. This is the very same faith that was demonstrated by Abraham, the father to all nations, and it rests on God’s grace.  It is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Study/Meditation:  In what ways do you still try to merit God’s gift of grace?  How can we balance knowing it is a gift of grace while seeking to live a righteous life?

*Father, thank You for Your gift of grace.  Make me ever more aware of how only faith can respond appropriately to Your grace, and help me see what that looks like in my life.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 4: 13-25

Romans 4:15 “For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.”

One of the contingencies of being “good enough” or “nice enough” for salvation is keeping the law.  The law is what ultimately determines whether or not one has met the standard of being “good enough.”  By its very nature, the standard for keeping any law is perfection.  If you break a law, it’s broken and there are penalties for doing so.  The law is designed to condemn, and because of that, the person it is levied against will not like it.  It will bring wrath.  But our loving God sent His Son to perfectly keep the law that we could not keep so that it would not condemn us.  We are saved unto eternity by God’s promise, not by the law, or by being “good enough.”  Just a Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

Study/Meditation:  Why do we by nature despise the law but at the same time try to use it to determine our salvation?

*Father, Your law is perfect and I know that I cannot keep it perfectly.  Thank You for sending Your Son as the One who did perfectly keep it, thereby taking away the wrath that I rightfully deserve.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 4: 13-25

Romans 4:14 “For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be heirs, faith is null and the promise is void.”

Keep in mind here that the law was given some 430 years after Abraham’s faith and God’s promise to him in regards to His people.  With that as his foundational argument, Paul goes on to make another stunning statement.  In effect he is saying that if being good enough, i.e. keeping the law, is the instrument by which we are saved, then we are claiming that God’s love is conditional on our behavior.  That does not make God more loving, as some might claim; it makes Him less.  Later in chapter 5 Paul reminds us that Christ died for us “while we were yet sinners,” not once we were good enough.  God reached out and grasped us not while were good, not while we were loving and obedient, but while we were none of those things.  This is a far more loving God than one who accepts those who are good but rejects those who are not good enough.  Recognizing that God’s love cannot be earned but is given by grace through faith in Christ is not narrow minded; it is to recognize the spectacular nature and character of our great Lord.

Study/Meditation:  Why do you think the world rejects Jesus Christ as the only way to eternity with God?  What is the common denominator with every other religion when it comes to salvation outside of Christianity?

*Father, help me to convey the great truth of Your love to the world around me.  Give me the wisdom to speak words that reveal You to them.  Amen.