This devotional blog is intended to share brief, scripture based thoughts that we can tuck into our hearts. The focus of the devotions is God's word, not my thoughts. Isaiah 55:11 is the basis for this blog:
"so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it."
“For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that
he may be merciful to all.
O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge
of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?’
‘Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?’
For from him and through him and to him are all
things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”Romans 11:33-36 (NRSV)
In the eleventh chapter of Romans, Paul writes
about the disobedience of the Jews and the Gentiles.The history of the Jewish nation includes
many periods of time where the people were disobedient and did not put God
first in their lives, yet God still used the Jewish society to bring the Christ
into the world.Paul writes that the
disobedience of Jews and Gentiles still requires the same grace from God.
This passage of scripture is very important for
all Christians today.In a world that
seeks knowledge and truth, we are caught up in the depths of our own knowledge
and understanding.Astrophysics is a
branch of science that studies the physical laws of outer space. The theories
of how the universe works have been developed over centuries of study and
thought, and we are still learning and will continue to learn.Yet God created all of our physical laws by
commanding them into existence. In this same way, we can seek to understand
why God allows the human race to behave as it does, but we will never fully
comprehend it.God has the power
to speak light into existence, and He is somehow able to allow sin in the world
and extend grace to all.
“It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all
Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham’s children are
his true descendants; but ‘It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named
for you.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the
children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants.”Romans 9:6-8 (NRSV)
The theme of Paul’s ministry is the simple statement,
“Christ for all.” In this scripture
passage, Paul so painstakingly makes it
clear to the Gentiles that the promised Messiah is not only for the Jews.
The Jews identified themselves as flesh descendants of
Abraham, and they were proud that God had promised that the Messiah would come
to the descendants of Abraham.If, as the
Jews believe, that the Messiah is only for the flesh descendants of Abraham,
then Paul argues that the Messiah must be for the descendants of Ishmael and
Esau as well, because they also are descendants of Abraham.
However, God sent the Messiah through the descendants of the
child that He promised to Abraham,
Isaac.God also promised to Abraham that
his descendants would be as numerous as the stars—an almost incomprehensible
number.God reckoned Abraham righteous
because of his faith—not because of his lineage.Most importantly, God promised Abraham that
He would always be with him.
All of these promises, found in the Old Testament, point to
a lineage of faith, not a lineage of flesh.Paul wants us to understand that all of these promises point to the fact
that God loves all people, not just the Jews.God loves us, in spite of the evil in each of us, and He longs to draw
us close to Him.God longed for us so
much that He sent Christ (through Isaac, the son promised to Abraham) to die on
the cross so that we would have the opportunity to be with Him forever. All of these promises point to the grace of
“because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”Romans 10:9 (NRSV)
There is something about speaking and doing that solidifies
the truth in our hearts.Psalms 15:1-2
(NRSV) says:“O Lord, who may abide in
your tent?Who may dwell on your holy
hill?Those who walk blamelessly, and do
what is right, and speak the truth from their heart.”And Jesus says in John 17:8 (NRSV): “for the
words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and
know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”
Jesus came and spoke the words and performed the deeds that
created the truth and saving grace that dwelt in the hearts of the
Speaking the truth and performing deeds in love solidifies
God’s grace in our hearts too.It is
important for us to speak and act our faith, even when our feelings urge us to
do otherwise.Modern American Christians
are aware of the feeling aspect of our faith, and while feelings are important,
it is the concrete facts that build up our foundation of faith.The most important concrete fact is
this:God pours His grace into our lives
to solidify our faith so that we may stand on His firm foundation and abide in
"For Moses writes about the righteousness that is
based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.
6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart,
‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who
will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your
heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you
confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God
raised him from the dead, you will be saved."Romans 10: 5-9 (ESV)
The apostle Paul is actually making a simple analogy
here.First Paul points out that the
Jews, who look for righteousness through obedience to the law, have the law
written on their hearts (see Romans 2:15). Paul does not mean that we will be righteous
because we obey the law.Paul means that
through obedience to the law, God's love for us becomes written on our
hearts.For example, when we consciously
try to be honest in all of our interactions, we will grow to have honesty
ingrained in our hearts.We will not be
honest just so that others will praise our honesty, we will be honest because
we want to please God.
Next, Paul compares righteousness through the law with
righteousness based on faith.Paul says
that righteousness based on faith is similar to righteousness based on law that
is written on our hearts.When we trust
God for our righteousness, we do not have to ascend to heaven and bring Christ
down to us, nor do we have to descend to hell and bring Christ up to us.We do not have to do anything.Christ is in our mouth (in what we do) and in
our hearts (what we believe).
God's law has paved the way for grace.When we know in our hearts what is righteous,
we can then recognize the grace that justifies our lives in the eyes of God.