Salvation by Faith and Faith By God’s Grace (Tues. July 5_

The word for today is “faith.” Those who believe the Gospel would think that all who hear it would respond in faith to it. They would ask why many do not? In today’s reading of Romans 10:11-11:2, Paul continues to wrestle with that question. He writes, “But they have not all obeyed the Gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’” (OSB Romans 10:16). Today our study will not arrive at an explanation for the negative response to the offer of salvation. But our commentary will propose a fresh perspective to the question of why most Jews rejected the message of Christ. A Change of Focus Suppose we turn our focus from those who reject the Gospel to…

God Has His Own Reasons (Mon. July 4)

The word of the day is “irony.” Many preachers today give the impression that they know all about God’s designs for human history. By selective quotations from the scripture, they offer their own keys to the ways of God. Today, in our reading of Romans 9:18-33, we read Paul’s rebuttal of all claims to grasp how God fulfills His purposes in the course of human history. Paul writes, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness (NKJV vs. 30-31). Today we reflect on the irony of God’s treatment of Jews and Gentiles.…

Saved? Not Yet (Sun. July 3)

The word of the day is “shall.” “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” We can apply that saying to our salvation. Some would declare that they were saved at some moment in the past. And now they can rest in the assurance of their deliverance. But that like a biker who has climbed to the top of a hill. Now, he tells himself, he can coast down the hill without worry or effort. But the biker hasn’t finished the course. Soon another hill appears and he is unprepared to face its challenge. But in today’s reading of romans 5:1-10, Paul speaks of salvation as a future happening. He writes, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God…

Grace Unlimited (Sat. July 2)

The word of the day is “only.” Tribalism is found throughout human society. Humans favor their own group however they define it, and they distinguish themselves from other such groupings. Thus, it seems natural to believe that the scope of God’s concern is limited to one’s own circle. However, in today’s reading of Romans 3:28-4:3, we hear an important question, “Is He the God of the Jews only?” (Romans 3:29). Today we reflect on Paul’s reasoning that salvation must be by faith if it is to be offered to all. We will find that this thinking requires that the church and its members play a key role in the divine plan of salvation. As we reflect on Paul’s question of…

Should the Clay Question the Potter? (Fri. July 1)

The word of the day is “children.” Do we complain that God is not fair in His dealings with us? Perhaps we do not give voice to our grumbling. Nevertheless, the unspoken attitude might linger in our hearts. Today’s reading of Romans 9:6-19 takes us back to the question of why most Jews rejected the Gospel that Paul preached. If the Jews are God’s Chosen People, why didn’t the Almighty ensure that they would realize that Jesus was the Messiah? Paul writes, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainty not. For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion” (OSB Romans 8:14-15). Today we…

Saved in Hope (Thurs. June 30)

The word of the day is “hope.” In today’s reading, Paul describes the suffering of the world. He writes, “The whole creation groans…” (OSB vs. 22). Indeed, we hear the moans of the earth in the chronicles of destruction, disorder, and devastation of every newscast. According to the media, the earth is plunging into disaster without hope of recovery. Yet in today’s reading of Romans 8:22-27, Paul writes, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope… But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (OSB vs. 24). Today our reflection will encourage us to hope that the Almighty will deliver us and all creation…

Not According to the Flesh but in the Freedom of the Spirit (Wed. June 29)

The word of the day is “free.” Yesterday’s comment left Paul in a spiritual impasse. In our reading, St. Paul described two contending inclinations. These seemed to cancel each other out.  Indeed, for those who strive to be “accounted righteous” by their own powers, they do nullify each other. In this state of spiritual paralysis between these two impulses, Paul cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death” (OSB Romans 7:24), this state of the natural inclination to sin? Today, in our reading of Romans 8:2-13, we hear the answer of grace. The apostle writes, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death” (OSB vs. 2).…

Spiritual Stagnation: Its Cause and Cure (Tues. June 28)

The word for today is “warring.” It is easy to fall into the devil’s trap of spiritual stagnation. In this lethargy of the spirit, we do not see beneath the surface of our souls. We think that we can rest in the false assurance of our salvation and enjoy a cozy relationship with God. But in today’s reading of Romans 7:14-8:2, we may be surprised at Paul’s description of his inner conflict. He writes, “I delight in the law of God according to the inward man, but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind” (OSB vs. 22-23). Today we learn to look beneath the complacency of our hearts to the true state of…

Delivered from the Law: A Life Free of Condemnation (Mon. June 27)

The word for today is “delivered.” Have you kept God’s law? You might ask, “What do you mean by God’s law.” We would add that if we are speaking of the Law of Moses, then we have not tried to keep it. But if we are speaking of the Ten Commandments, then we have to admit that we have broken them in spirit as well as deed. But do we feel regret and remorse for our failures to do God’s will? Today we read in Romans 7:1-13 that “we have been delivered from the law” (OSB vs. 6). Paul says that we have died to the law so that we should serve [God] in the newness of the Spirit (Romans…

Mission Work Is In Our Blood (Sun. June 26)

The word of the day is “partiality.” On this the Second Sunday after Pentecost, we commemorate “All Saints of North America.” The word for today is “partiality.” As we honor the saints of our land, it is appropriate that we read from Romans 2:10-16 that “there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11). St. Paul’s point is that the Almighty God will judge each person according to his or her deeds (Romans 2:6). Whether one is a Jew who knows the Law of God or a Gentile who does not, one will be judged by the same standards. The dividing line is whether one does good or evil. Therefore, in God’s eyes, the divisions among human beings make no difference.…