Today’s reading is Romans 2.
Being good does not make a person righteous, yet that is exactly how we often live. We weigh out our actions, dividing them into categories of “good” and “bad,” concluding that, because our good actions outweigh the bad, we are essentially good people. Further, we justify our bad actions, claiming that our motivations were right, even if our actions weren’t.
Paul cuts through that self-righteousness, reminding his Jewish readers that, even if they are devout, religious, law-abiding Jews, people are not righteous because of their outward works, but only when they place their faith in Jesus Christ, who makes us righteous through His atoning work. Meditate today on verse 29, and be reminded that God’s righteousness has been made available to you, and is not earned by works, but received by faith.
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The apostle Paul wrote at least 13 of the 27 books in the New Testament, including the book of Romans. Paul is believed to have written this letter while he was in the city of Corinth, receiving financial gifts from the believers which he would then take to those in need in Jerusalem. Once he delivered the gifts and ministered to those in Jerusalem, his plan was to visit Rome, a city to which he had not yet visited, but had heard much of the faith of the believers there.
Our church will be reading through the book of Romans over the next several days. We would love for you to join us. As we read through Romans, pay particular attention to its primary theme: “the righteousness of God.” With other significant words and concepts, like “faith,” “justification,” “law,” and “grace,” Paul focuses on the righteousness of God which is revealed in the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.
Today we are reading the first chapter of Romana. As you read it, notice the central theme of Paul’s entire letter.
Paul opens his letter by introducing himself and his apostolic ministry to the believers in Rome, whom he had not yet met. He then presents the theme of his epistle in verses 16 and 17 – the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul contrasts God’s righteousness with human unrighteousness (self-righteousness).
We often want to define good and evil for ourselves. Self righteousness blinds us to our sinfulness, yet it is only when we recognize our sinfulness that we can humble ourselves to receive God’s righteousness available through Jesus Christ. Today, meditate on Romans 1:16-17 several times, allowing God to reveal the promise of His righteousness to you.
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This month I am reading the book of Proverbs for my daily devotion time. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, which makes it easy to read one each day.
Today I read a verse that Hs taught me for many years.
“Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water, But a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Proverbs 20:5 NKJV
There are some people who have deep wells of wisdom. It’s more than mere knowledge and information; it is practical wisdom for real life. Some of it was learned by seeking the Lord and listening to other godly people, but some of it was learned through the pain and regret of failure and foolishness. Still, they gained wisdom.
These are the kind of people you want to learn from. In order to draw out their wisdom, you will need to come with some type of bucket. Obviously not a physical bucket, but a bucket of expectation, inquiry, and observation.
- Expectation is what compels you to bring the bucket in the first place. Expect that you will gain wisdom from the conversation or encounter. Expect that God will reveal something to you. Expect to be transformed in some way.
- Inquiry occurs when you let the bucket down into the well. Asking questions is a proven way of gaining wisdom. If you are with a wise person, don’t do all the talking. Talking out all of your issues may give you a temporary sense of relief, but you won’t be any wiser. Ask questions to a wise person – deep, meaningful questions – and then listen. Wisdom indeed has a voice – let it speak.
- Observation is how you draw the bucket up from the well and apply the waters of wisdom to your own life. Watch how the person lives, watch their marriage, listen to what they say (and what they don’t say), observe how they carry themselves in times of challenge. If you observe them carefully, you will know how to apply wisdom to your life.
This principle applies in many settings. When you go to church, bring your bucket. When you read your Bible, bring your bucket. When you are at a conference or listening to a podcast, bring your bucket. There is no shortage on wisdom, only a shortage on those actively searching for it.
If you will carry your bucket of expectation, inquiry, and observation, you will be continually refreshed by the waters of wisdom.
This week I began a month-long reading of the Old Testament book of Joshua (download the New Hope Worship Center mobile app for the reading plan and devotionals). Joshua is an exceptional example of a godly leader, having led Israel from the wilderness into the land God promises them.
Joshua gives us some insight into what is required to possess God’s promises:
- You will need to be strong and courageous. Josh. 1:6 says, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”
- You will need to be obedient. Joshua1:7 says, “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.”
- You will need to continually declare God’s Word. Joshua 1:8 says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”
Meditating on God’s Word involves more than quietly thinking and pondering; it has more to do with speaking, saying, and declaring. Meditation on God’s Word may begin with the thoughts of your mind, but it includes and prioritizes the words of your mouth.
God said, “Joshua, don’t let My words stop flowing from your mouth! Keep declaring My promises and My covenant – no matter what you face! If you align your words with Mine, you will have success in what I send you to do!”
Are you speaking God’s promises over your life, or just rehearsing your problems? If your tongue is like a steering wheel, where is it leading you? James reminds us that the tongue is a powerful – even deadly – force when left to itself. But when you align your words with God’s Word, you ignite faith and allay doubt and fear.
Maybe the psalmist understood the power of our words when he prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart he acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
If your tongue is like a steering wheel, where is it leading you? The reality is, steering wheels should never be left unattended. The driver should control the direction of the car by rightly handling the steering wheel.
Stop letting your mouth run wherever it wants to. Get control of your tongue and you will get control of your life.
The no-judgment zone has gone too far.
Differences of opinion can be handled by those who are mature, but there are many who demand tolerance from others while refusing to extend the same toward those who see things from another perspective. Consequently, there are countless numbers of people who get offended at the thought of any form of absolute truth. If it doesn’t support their own thoughts, actions and beliefs, it is deemed judgmental and intolerant. They see it as condemnation.
That mindset has also crept into the way people view God and His Word. They want the blessings of God, but not His boundaries. They want His provision, but not His process. They want His intervention in crisis, but not His intrusion into root issues of a selfishness and pride.
The kingdom of God is not a no-judgment zone. Make no mistake, God is a Judge. But His judgments are entirely righteous. Only in God is justice truly found. The Father did not send Jesus to condemn the world – the world was already condemned by its own sin. Jesus came to set us free from our self-imposed condemnation.
The Apostle John wrote:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:17-18 ESV)
To be free from condemnation:
- Acknowledge the sinful motivations of your own heart. The Holy Spirit will reveal these things to you when you invite Him to reveal your heart to you.
- Declare that Jesus is not only the Righteous Judge, but also the One who sacrificed His life to set you free from your sin.
- Receive God’s forgiveness and ask Him to set you free from any bondage to the evil one.
- Earnestly seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that your character will be marked by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), and your life will be evidenced by the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12).
Conviction comes from the Holy Spirit and will set you free.
Condemnation comes from the enemy and keeps you in bondage.
Don’t mistake judgment for condemnation. God does not want you to be condemned, but He will confront your heart so that you can be set free.