Monday, August 11, 2014

Morning Devotion: Romans 1:1-7

As I began reading Romans this morning I noticed when I got to verse 8 that I had left the introduction of the letter. I seemed to perk up as if I was now getting to the good stuff. I immediately chided myself because I know that what I had just read was powerful. I think the hardest part about being a seasoned Christian is to be able to read the Word fresh each day. It's more than reading the words and checking it off the to-do list. It means we have to read it to gain understanding. So let us do that while we go through the Word together, starting with the introduction of the letter to Rome.
Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Paul starts by telling us who he is, but then continues to expound upon who Christ is. See, our only identity as a Christian should be in Christ. Paul was called as an apostle and was set apart for the gospel of God. That's it. That is his identity. He is not significant in any way. His identity is only in Christ. What is important is that we know and understand who Christ is, so Paul goes on.
Rom 1:2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
Immediately he leans on the Scriptures for validation. The Messiah had been prophesied and the nation of Israel was watching for Him. Paul explained that Christ was the fulfillment of those prophesies. We are to believe the Scriptures, not just Paul.
Rom 1:3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh
We know from Isaiah 9:7 that Messiah would be an heir of David and that there would be no end to His throne. This bold statement from Paul is announcing and declaring that Jesus is that eternal heir!
Rom 1:4 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 is the Son of God! That proof isn't in the fact that he claimed to be the Son of God, though he did. It's proof wasn't even in the fact that he was born of a virgin, though he was. The final proof, that final piece of evidence that cannot be refuted, was that God raised Him from the dead! Do you get that? Those who didn't want to follow Christ and who challenged his authority had no way to refute Him now. It was indeed the final proof that Jesus IS the Son of God. That is why He showed himself to so many people and why their testimony wasn't challenged. Producing the body of Jesus and proving that He didn't rise from the dead would have been the sure fire and only way to stop this movement, and believe me, the Jewish and Roman leaders wanted this movement stopped. However, no physical body was ever produced and the eyewitnesses of his resurrection were so many that it was irrefutable. Jesus was declared the Son of God in power. It takes power to raise someone from the dead! What amazing power, what holiness, and what glory and honor our God deserves! This is who was just introduced in this letter: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 1:5 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,
Here again, Paul is explaining that his identity, his work, and even his office is for one purpose. It is for Christ's name sake, for His glory alone. It is only through grace that it is possible. He never takes the credit and never seeks the favor of man. He does it only to bring men into obedience to Christ.
Rom 1:6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
He wanted the Romans to know they were among those who belonged to this splendid Savior. Not because of any works they had done, but because of the grace they had received.
Rom 1:7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here it is, that introduction that can be so often overlooked. Oh, this is the greeting of Paul that we are so familiar with and yet look at how he greets them. He reminds them they are loved by God. That alone should give us pause. This holy, perfect, powerful, omnipotent God of the universe loves us! He not only loves us but calls us to be saints! He offers us grace and peace. His grace is certainly needed if we are ever to have peace. Thankfully His grace is sufficient!

As you go through your day today, as you do the same chores and housework you do every day, remember that. When you are changing dirty diapers, dealing with a tantrum, trying to communicate with a child who is unable to speak, or looking for something appropriate for your teenager to wear out the door, remember you are called a saint and offered grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This daily offering is given freely because you belong to Jesus!

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