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Focal Passage:  Romans 1:21-32

Romans 1:21a; 23 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God…and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”

Remember that the context of what Paul writes here is those who have suppressed the knowledge of God though He has made Himself plainly known.  Not only does this suppression of truth result in foolishness and darkened minds, it also results in idolatry of some sort.  The reality is that mankind cannot choose to worship nothing.  If man does not worship God, he will worship something—money, career, nature, self—the list could go on and on.  Once the glory of God is ignored or suppressed, He will be replaced by some other thing to worship.  God created us to give Him glory; if we don’t give it to Him, our natures will lead us to give it to something else.  As His children, we must center ourselves daily on whom and what we worship, on whom and  to what we give glory.  May it always be our Lord.

Study/Meditation:  In what ways can you see mankind today worshiping idols, even though they may claim that they worship nothing?  Where can you improve in this area?

*Father, to You alone I give glory.  You are God and there is no other.  Praise to Your Name!  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 1:21-32

Romans 1:21b-22 “But they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

There is always a consequence, and in this case many consequences, to suppressing the truth of God.  Seemingly intelligent people rationalize truth in almost laughable contexts when they ignore and marginalize what God has made plain in the eyes of man.  Darwin’s theory of evolution is the stuff of science fiction, and yet supposedly learned men and women see it as absolute truth because they refuse to look to what God has made plain.  One noted scientist has laid claim to alien habitation as the best explanation for how the earth was first populated by life.  When God is suppressed, man’s thoughts become futile, their hearts are darkened, and they show themselves to be fools.  Truth exists where truth begins—with God.

Study/Meditation:  In what ways can you see mankind suppressing God’s truth today?  What are some of the visible consequences of this suppression in today’s society?

*Father, You are wondrous and glorious in Your creation.  I pray for those who refuse to see You that their hearts be softened to the majesty that is You.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 1:21-32

Romans 1:21a “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.”

God has certainly revealed Himself in the majesty of His creation, as Paul has already stated, and in that revelation mankind has no excuse for disbelief.  However, there are those who though the evidence is there, still choose not to believe.  What’s interesting here is the “why” of their unbelief.  Paul had earlier written in verse 18 that they are “men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”  A refusal to believe that God is God is not an intellectual one; it is a rebellious one.  That’s why there really is no such thing as an atheist or an agnostic.  This person sees God, sees His creation and His glory, but refuses to honor Him in that.  It is not an intellectual decision but one born of disobedience and an unwillingness to give God thanksgiving for what is clearly seen.  No amount of deduction or reasoning can deny Him; only a willful suppression of what is plainly shown.  In that, God’s justice will indeed be just.

Study/Meditation:  How do you see rebellion as the source of unbelief rather than intellect?  How does this truth also reveal God’s justice in judgment?

*Father, thank You for making Yourself clearly known and clearly seen in Your creation.  I lift up to You all of my unbelieving friends and family.  Soften their hearts to see You and give themselves to You unto salvation.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 1:18-20

Romans 1:19-20 “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse.”

At the end of verse 18 Paul had said that God’s wrath is revealed against men “who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”  This truth he speaks of in the next verses is God, Himself.  One cannot live in this world and take part in this creation and be an atheist.  One can’t be agnostic.  Of course, many claim to be just that, but Paul says that God has made Himself plain in all that He has created and that there is no denying His glory and majesty, much less His existence.  It is not that they cannot see; Paul says it’s that that will not see.  They choose to ignore or suppress the truth.  However, those who claim to not believe in God or to believe in nothing will be “without excuse” on that great and glorious day when our Lord comes back.  He is everywhere and He is manifested clearly in His work and He will return.

Study/Meditation:  Read Psalm 19.  How does David reinforce Paul’s words here?  How do you see God everywhere?

*Father, I give You all praise and honor in this world.  Help me take part in displaying Your majesty to the men and women around me.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 1:18-20

Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Paul had just said in the previous verse that the righteousness of God has been revealed, and now he is pointing immediately to the wrath of God being revealed?  Why does he state these two points in such quick succession?  The answer is that it is the very righteousness of God that justifies and results in His wrath on ungodliness and unrighteousness.  We live in a world that very much wants to deny the existence of “righteous wrath” or “loving wrath.”  Even many Christians today want to deny a vengeful God in favor of a loving God, but one does not exist without the other.  How could love be displayed by a God who did not hate evil and sin?  One cannot love without indignation for those things that are not loving.  In His righteousness, God’s wrath is revealed against a world that has denied Him, and this is the very thing that makes Him the magnificent loving God who will display His glory.

Study/Meditation:  How can God be loving and vengeful at the same time?  Why is this indicative of His being God?

*Father, You are a righteous and just God, and I praise Your name.  Let Your name be known throughout the lands and the ages, and let it be magnified from the mountaintops!  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 1:16-17

Romans 1:17 “For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

Paul says something astounding here.  If you and I had been writing this letter, we may have written something like, “For in the gospel is revealed the grace of God,” or “For in the gospel is revealed the love of God,” or the “mercy of God”—which is all true, by the way.  But Paul states the theme of this letter more completely by telling us that the gospel is revealed in the “righteousness of God.”  In other words, the gospel demonstrates God’s absolute and complete justice in the way He deals with us.  Because God didn’t simply sweep our sins under the rug and dismiss them but instead dealt fully with them, He brings us into union with Him in complete harmony with His righteousness.  If it had not been this way and we were aware of God’s righteousness and justice, there would have always been some doubt about the existence of our sin in light of His character.  However, it is God’s gospel and it is demonstrated in His righteousness.  We are secure.  How great is our God!

Study/Meditation:  Paul refers to the gospel as “the gospel of God” or “the gospel of Christ” in his letter to the Romans.  How does this also offer security in that it’s about what God did, not what we did that obtains salvation on our behalf?

*Father, You are holy and righteous.  Thank You for dealing with my sin in that righteousness so that I never doubt my eternity with You.  I love You.  Amen.