The Divine Plan of Salvation: the First Will Be Last (Wed. July 14)

The word of the day is “jealousy .”  We have the Gospel of salvation.  We are members of the church. We know the grace of God.  These affirmations are the ground on which the weeds of pride can grow.  By thinking that we possess these things, we might be tempted to glory in the supposition that the Almighty God has shifted his favor to us.  And we might suppose that those who do not have the Gospel, are not members of the church, and do not know God’s grace are left out for all eternity. In our reading of Romans 11:2-12, Paul explains that God has willed unbelief to the Jews and granted belief to the Gentiles for a larger…

Why the Gospel was Rejected: a Proposed Change of Focus (Tues. July 13)

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…

Beyond Human Comprehension (Mon. July 12)

The word of the day is “irony.”   Many preachers today give the impression that they are in the know 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 scriptures rebuttal to all who claim 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…

Saved? We Haven’t Yet Finished the Course (Sun. July 11)

The word of the day is “shall.”  “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.”  Today we 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 is like the biker who has climbed to the top of a hill. Now, he tells himself, he can coast down the slope without worry or effort.  But the biker hasn’t reached his destination.  Soon another hill appears, and he is unprepared to face its challenge.  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: Salvation by Faith Is for All (Sat. July 10)

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 concentrated on one’s own associations.  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 to be offered to all.  We will find that this thinking requires that the church and its members to play a key role in the divine plan of salvation. As we reflect on Paul’s question of…

God’s Sovereignty: Should the Clay Question the Potter? (Fri. July 9)

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…

Saved in Hope for Ourselves and the World (Thurs. July 8)

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…

Walking Not According to the Flesh but in the Freedom of the Spirit (Wed. July 7)

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: It’s Cause and Cure (Tues. July 6)

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: Living Free of Condemnation (Mon. July 5)

The word for today is “delivered.”  Have we tried to keep God’s law?  Many of us would say, “No,  I  have not tried to keep the Law of Moses and its regulations and restrictions.”  But do we know the Ten Commandments, and have we broken them in spirit and/or in deed?  In that case, does the reminder of the “just requirement of the law” (OSB Romans 8:4) help us to move beyond the sense regret and remorse?  Or does it hold us captive to guilt and condemnation? In today’s passage of Romans 7:1-13, we read,  “we have been delivered from the law” (OSB vs. 6).  In fact, we have died to the law so that we should serve [God] in…