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Focal Passage:  Romans 1:1-15

Romans 1:8 “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.”

In every aspect of our lives, whether good or bad, we should be a people who are under-girded with thanksgiving.  This is a good word in and of itself, but Paul is reminding us that we need to look around at our brothers and sisters in Christ and thank God both for them and for the work of faith that is being done in their hearts.  How often do you look around the fellowship of your local church and really thank God for the work they are doing on behalf of your Father?  How often do we thank God for their faith and what it is doing for a dying world, not for what they have done or are doing with us in mind?  Remember that God in His mercy and grace has not put you in this alone—Hallelujah!  Thank God today for the faith of your brethren, that precious gift given them by God, the Father, and for what their faith is doing so that the Lord is impacting all the world.

Study/Meditation:  Think of at least two people (more, if possible) that you want to thank God for today who are doing a mighty work for the Lord and spend time in prayer for them.

*Father, thank You for _______________________ and for what they do in Your Kingdom.  I praise You for giving the gift of faith to so many and for allowing me to share in this amazing work.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 1:1-15

Romans 1:5-7 “(Jesus Christ our Lord), through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.”

“Grace” is such an interesting word, and we often mistake its truest meanings when thinking of it in terms of what God gives.  “Grace” is not something you can earn nor is it something you deserve.  “Grace” is that thing you receive from one who owes you nothing.  Jesus Christ came to give us this grace, this gift, so that we in all the world would have access to faith in Him as Lord which will result in necessary obedience to Him, and all of this for His sake!  What a statement!  Once again, everything is about Him, even the gift of grace that He gives us, but don’t miss the beauty here.  This gift of grace gives us access to Him, eternity with Him, but first it gives us the ability to believe in Him so that the results will be there.  “Amazing love, how can it be?  That You, my King, would die for me?”  Let us sing that with exaltation today and every day.

Study/Meditation:  Why do you think that obedience to God must be preceded by faith in Him as Lord?  Why is His grace necessary for these two to be accomplished?

*Father, thank You for Your gift of grace.  I know that I do not deserve Your love, but I rejoice that You chose to give it to me based on Your glory and not on me.  I love you.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 1:1-15

Romans 1:3-4 “(…the gospel of God…) concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord—fully God and fully man.  Paul declares in these verses as he introduces this amazing letter to the Romans that the hope we all have in eternity and the promises we’ve been given are based on this glorious truth.   God didn’t appoint a man to be Savior.  No, He sent His very own Son to become man so that He would share in our weaknesses and triumph where we could never triumph.  When He came to earth as a man, He fulfilled all prophecies concerning Him as the descendent of David and was declared God in His resurrection and by the words of the Spirit.  He was, He came, and He is.  Our hope is in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  This is the glorious gospel of God.

Study/Meditation:  Read John 1:1-2.  How does the beginning of John’s gospel line up with the beginning of Paul’s letter?  How do these words comfort you?

*Father, thank You for Your faithfulness.  Thank You for sending Your Son, who fulfilled all Your promises and saved me.  I praise Your name!  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 1:1-15

Romans 1:2 “(Paul…set apart for the gospel of God,) which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.”

We can depend on many things when it comes to God, but one thing is most sure—when God says He will do something, He does it.  As Paul begins his letter to the Christians in Rome, he is assuring them that the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ was promised by God throughout all of the Old Testament and that He kept that promise.  Every word from the prophets pointed toward Jesus Christ and even the most seemingly insignificant detail came to pass.  There is great comfort for us today from such amazingly packed verses.  God’s Word has foretold many things and all have come to pass.  He has likewise promised that He will do many more things, and we can be assured that He will do all of them.  If we rest in nothing else, may we rest in the fact that we have a sure God, a God who does exactly what He says He will do.

Study/Meditation:  What comfort do you receive from knowing that the Old Testament prophesies concerning Jesus have come to fruition?  What does that tell you about future prophecies?

*Father, You are holy and without fault.  Thank You for sending Jesus as my propitiator and my salvation.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 1:1-15

Romans 1:1 (Greeting) “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.”

The book of Romans, perhaps more than any other book in the Bible, sets forth all of Christianity’s major themes.  John Chrysostom, the 5th century’s greatest preacher, had Romans read to him once a week.  Augustine, Luther, and Wesley all came to faith through the gospel as presented in Romans.  John Piper calls it “the greatest letter ever written.”  It is in light of these facts that our devotions for the coming months will be from Paul’s letter to the Romans.
The first verse, though it looks like it is simply about Paul, actually points to the centrality of the entire letter—it’s about God.  Paul is a servant of Christ because God sent His Son as a sacrifice, he was called to be an apostle by God, and he was set apart by God before the foundation of time for this work.  Paul is stating what he would later state in Romans 11:36, “For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever.  Amen.”  As we read Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians, he will remind us of this very same thing:  it is all about God.

Study/Meditation:  What things do you know about Paul?  From what you know, why do you think he was such a good candidate for sharing the gospel?

*Father, thank You for Your Word and the beauty of it.  Help me as I study this great book to find the deepest of Your truths and then to live by them.  Amen.

Focal Passage- James 5:13-20

James 5:19-20 “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

As children of God we are a community of believers.  As such, we are to take responsibility for one another and care for one another enough to guide some back to Christ when they fall away.  If we ask God the same question that Cain asked Him, “Am I my brother’s keeper,” God’s answer will always be “yes.”  Caring for each other extends beyond the boundaries of providing meals and visits.  This care we are to exhibit must also be a concern for the spiritual welfare of our brothers and sisters.  We mustn’t become judge and jury to anyone, but love in community does mean doing everything we can to bring another back into the fold of God’s family.

Study/Meditation:  Who in your life right now needs you to guide them back into God’s community?  How might you do this without being “judge and jury”?

*Father, thank You for making me part of Your family.  Help me discern when I am to speak up to my brothers and sisters so that those who fall away may come back.  Give me wisdom in my speech and actions.  Amen.