June 28 — Romans 10 — Process of Salvation. Paul quoted from seven Old Testament passages in this chapter to lay out the process, or sequence, of how one can be saved. Many of the people of Israel were not saved because although “they had a zeal for God” (v. 2), they lacked the understanding of how to direct their zeal. They were “seeking to establish their own” righteousness through good works (v. 3). Salvation doesn’t come as a result of working for it by doing good but it comes “to everyone who believes” (v. 4). That is a belief from the heart that is verbally acknowledged (v. 10). The process begins with people who are willing to proclaim the Word of God to others (v. 14b). Then, if those who hear believe the message and “call on him” (v. 14a), they will be saved. We, whose lives have been changed by believing the gospel, are those responsible to share that message of salvation to start the process for others.
June 29 — Romans 11 — Deep Riches. This is a deeply theological chapter that challenges our best efforts to understand the way God works with the people He created. The Jews were God’s chosen people, beginning with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and his descendants. But God also had a critical requirement of faith. In Elijah’s time, most Jews in the northern kingdom of Israel had drifted away but there was “a remnant, chosen by grace” (v. 5) who maintained their faith. The continued hardness of most of the Jews, with their rejection of Jesus their Messiah, opened the door of God’s mercy to us Gentiles. But somehow in the end, “all Israel will be saved” (v. 26). Yes, it is mysterious because we don’t have the mind of God. No wonder Paul closes this chapter with a tribute to the great “depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (v. 33)! As Charles Tindley wrote in his hymn in 1905, “By and by, when the morning comes, when the saints of God are gathered home, we’ll tell the story how we’ve overcome, for we’ll understand it better by and by.”
June 30 — Romans 12 — Dos and Don’ts. If you need instruction about how to live the Christian life, this chapter is packed with dos and don’ts. I counted 23 statements about what to do and 10 statements about what not to do. The world around us sees the requirements of Scripture as a threat to what they want to do and a nagging pest regarding what they don’t want to do. That is because they do not understand what is truly good for them and what is bad for them. If we Christians consciously orient our lives according to these biblical attitudes and actions, we will “present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (v. 1). As you read today, ask God to point out to you one particular thing He wants you to work on in terms of what you should start doing or what you should stop doing.
July 1 — Romans 13 — Getting Dressed. After talking about the Christian’s responsibility toward human government, Paul ended this chapter speaking of our relationship with God. He pictured us waking up in the morning and getting dressed for a new day of walking toward our ultimate salvation (v. 11). We need to take off our dirty clothes and put on clean ones to face the day, or “walk properly” (v. 13). The dirty clothes represent sin we have tolerated or sin that tempts us “to gratify its desires” (v. 14). The clean clothes we put on are described as “the armor of light” (v. 12) and “the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 14). Every morning as you get up and stretch, make a commitment to say “no” to desires of the flesh and “yes” to what pleases God.
July 2 — Romans 14 — Should or Shouldn’t? In this chapter, Paul picks up on chapter 12’s “Dos and Don’ts” theme but gives it a twist. Chapter 12 was about what God said we should do or not do; chapter 14 considers what people think we should do or not do. Big difference! First, Paul tackles the problem of judging others by our personal standards, like whether or not to eat certain foods (v. 2) or to celebrate certain days (v. 5). If God does not specify a certain standard, we should not judge others in those matters. The personal nature of these kinds of standards is pointed out by the use of expressions like, “his own mind” (v. 5), “thinks it unclean” (v. 14), and “not from faith” (v. 23). Secondly, Paul tackles the problem of negatively influencing others by what we do. This is particularly directed at those who are not “weak in faith” (v. 1). Those people must be careful to not influence others to act against their own conscience, which would be a sin for them (vv. 20, 23). The kingdom of God is not about conflict over extra-biblical standards, but it is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (v. 17).