Romans 16

Paul in this chapter underscores the importance of Christian community in a couple of different ways. 

He devotes a big section to name people with whom he has had the pleasure of fellowship with, calling many of them by name and greeting them as well as encouraging and blessing them.  What a great example to us that we are to encourage and bless those we are in fellowship with, sometimes even if we are no longer in their immediate presence.

He then admonishes the Romans one more time to be careful of those who cause divisions in the church.  Watch out for them and dont entertain their crazy talk.

The last part of this section is a reminder to us that Paul was not a lone ranger.  He may be the one whose name is mentioned but he stands on the shoulders of many people who were partnering with him and working in a team together to see the kingdom of heaven advance.  Timothy, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Tertuis, name a few.

We are to always remember that we are not lone rangers in living out this Christian life as well as in fulfilling our commission to go and preach the good news.  We need to be in community where together we are better.  In community we are encouraged and challenged; we reach higher and go farther because there are others along the way helping you (pushing or pulling).  We are meant to live in community and we can last for the long haul if we choose to live in such a way. 

Are you truly living in community?
Who have you encouraged or blessed this week that is a part of your community?
How are you contributing to the community you are a part of?

Romans 15

"We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up."

The responsibility for pleasing one another falls on all believers, but especially on those who are strong,  Believers who are more mature ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength.

The greek word for ought has the basic meaning of owing a debt or having a strong obligation. The word translated to bear refers to picking up and carrying a burden. It is used literally of "carrying a pitcher of water" (Mark 14:13) and of carrying a man (Acts 21:35).

To bear the weaknesses of fellow believers is not simply to tolerate those weaknesses but to help carry them—by not being critical or condescending and by showing respect for sincere views or practices that we may not agree with. It is to "do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind... [to] regard one another as more important than" ourselves, not merely looking "out for [our] own personal interests, but also for the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3-4).

This attitude goes a long way in building up the community of believers.  It preserves unity,  One of the greatest gifts God has given us is the community of believers to help mold us into His image and likeness.  Yet this is one of the things we run from most often.  Instead of preserving the unity of the community of believers we destroy it with our individualistic thinking and behavior.  Those who are strong must choose to help carry the weak by not condemning them, being critical or condescending but by lovingly doing what we can to help build them up so that they too can be made more in the image and likeness of Christ.  This becomes a great testimony to the world around us who will know we are Christians by our love for each other.


Romans 13

S- "This is also why you pay taxes for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing" (Romans 13:6).

O - Taxes? Really God, taxes?  Paul continues his teaching on the practice of faith to the role of governing authorities; the public aspect of the Gospel.  Some years later, while under house arrest in Rome, Paul would write "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient ... to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward men" (Titus 3:1).  Civil government is ordained by God and is God's servant for the benefit of Society--to protect the general public by maintaining order--even the use of force ( vs. 4).  By submitting to the governing authorities the believer is honoring God.  Keep in mind Israel was under hostile Roman occupation.

U - The excesses of government today are epidemic.  Obviously, most are unaware of their God ordained role and responsibility.  Paul is describing proper, ideal function of rulers.  When civil rulers overstep their proper function, the Christian is to obey God rather than man.  When Pilate sought to intimidate Jesus with his "power to free him or crucify him" Jesus replied "You would have no power over me if it was not given from above" (John 19:10-11).  

L - In this world, the Church is God's agent for a community identified for its deep love for one another.  Love does no harm to a neighbor and thus fulfills the law. Against the background of corruption the Church stands as a witness for your glory Lord. As we "Clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ" we witness the transforming power that raised Christ from the dead.  

Romans 12

S - "Therefore, . . . " (Romans 12:1) O - Note to self: do not overlook the importance of transitional words when studying. Chapter 12 begins with the word "Therefore". Paul is saying in effect, "consequently..." or "as a result of..." referring to the teaching of the prior eleven chapters. It is here Paul teaches us how to relate the theoretical to the practical in the Christian life. U - Romans is the first systematic theology of the Church. It contains nearly all of the doctrine of the Church. The theology that Paul taught under the guidance of the Holy Spirit rightly applied transforms the believer by the renewing of the mind. Again, I am reminded that the study of doctrine is neither optional nor for a select or few super Christians. Rather, it is our reasonable response to God's mercy in Christ; to offer ones whole being as a "living sacrifice" in a manner which is "holy and pleasing to God" (v.1). This Paul describes as "your true and proper worship" (vs.1). So, to recap: a) True Doctrine properly taught and applied transforms the believer in a manner that pleases God. b) My concept of worship can no longer be simply about singing songs. Worship is so much more and will be developed over the remaining chapters. c) Tension: By that I mean expect resistance. Paul speaks of hostile forces with an agenda that is not of God. I recall another translation that reads, "Do not be pressed into the mold of this world". d) Discovery. The process of transformation offers the believer insight into the very heart of God, "his good, pleasing and perfect will." L - From your goodness comes everything I need to live my life for your glory. I wish I could say that I have always loved you with my all; my heart, soul and strength. Help me to regain a sense of urgency. Paul said, "I urge you in view of God's mercy ..." Help me identify and crucify the areas of my life that resemble the pattern of this world. Help me live a life that pleases you. In the name of Jesus.

Romans 11

A remnant now remains, and someday full salvation will come to Israel (11:1-32). Israel has not been completely rejected. Paul himself is a Jew, and yet he is a believer. For its first decade the early church was a Hebrew church. There were thousands upon thousands of Jewish Christians when Paul writes his letter to the Romans.  As always in history, there is a remnant that has been chosen by grace.

Paul reveals in this passage that Israel's rejection is also temporary. God has opened the door of faith to the whole world, but He has not rejected the people who were the original branches, growing from that tree of faith which has its historic roots in God's first great acts of self-revelation. The day is coming when Israel will be grafted back into the original vine.

Paul promises that "all Israel will be saved" when the "full number of Gentiles has come in."  His quotes from Isaiah 59 and 27 make it clear that Paul believes the promises of the Old Testament prophets to Israel will literally fulfilled.

Paul concludes this section with a doxology that links the words of Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:11.  God's plan is great and complex.  It's very complexity shows us the depth of the riches of His wisdom and knowledge. (Hayford's Bible Handbook. Romans p. 350).

Romans 10

S - "Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved (Romans 10:1). O - While in Corinth, during his third missionary trip, the apostle Paul writes to the church in Rome. Shortly after, Paul would make his last visit to Jerusalem. There he would be arrested and be given a government escort to Rome. Multiple threats on his life were made by none other then the very "Israelites" that he is praying for in the verse quoted above. What has caught my attention is the contrast of Paul's spiritual family in Christ "Brothers" to his blood heritage/family "the Israelites". Paul grieved over the very spiritual hardness that resulted in constant threats to his life. His prayer was for their best . . . Salvation in Christ. U - In wrapping up his sermon series, "More is Better" pastor Gary brought us full circle to our purpose statement, "To Make Disciples of all Nations." Disciples make disciples. As I read Paul's prayer for the Israelites I thought of many believers today who find themselves in similar situations. . . Having been discipled themselves only to be marginalized by their own families because of their devotion to Christ. I am talking about the emotional toll it takes when no one in your family understands your commitment to Christ. Being ostracized, criticized, ridiculed and rejected is for the most part our experience here in America. In other countries martyrdom continues as it was in Paul's time. I am sure that in our little DSC family someone is weighing the cost of ramping up their commitment to the fellowship and at the same time being available for their own family. Perhaps one might follow Paul's example and humbly pray for their best . . . Salvation in Christ. L - My prayer today is for those answering the call to be discipled and make disciples. And, more specifically those who do not have the support of family. I pray for the wisdom that comes from above. Help them navigate the lack of support with dignity and grace. Thank you for the blessing of both our natural and spiritual families. In Jesus Name, amen.

Romans 9

S - What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! (Romans 9:14) O - In the preceding chapters (1-8) of his epistle to the people of the church of Rome, Paul has systematically demonstrated: a) The universal necessity of salvation, b) God's solution for the sin problem - justification through faith in Christ and c) God's provision for the instantaneous and progressive sanctification of the believer through the work of the Holy Spirit. In the next three chapters (9-11) Paul addresses what I call the proverbial, "elephant in the room" otherwise known as "the people of Israel." Their unmatched heritage/pedigree (9:14-15) can be summed up by one word, "Chosen". Jewish Christians had legitimate concerns, (eg. Justification by faith vs legal means. Has God abandoned his people? Was Christ really the Messiah promised in the OT? Could the Jews hope for the fulfillment of the promise made to their parents about the restoration of Israel? Wasn't God obligated to be merciful to the Jews?) U - Israel had distilled the wealth of their unique heritage among the nations of the world to a righteousness by works, the attempt to use the law to put God in one's debt. The problem is as dangerous today as it was in Paul's time. In order to construct a god of our own making, it is necessary to ignore the specific revelation of both the Old and New Testament. On the other hand, for the disciplined seeker there is the wealth of God's character, divine attributes and prerogatives, as well as an understanding of his sovereignty. For it is written, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Mat 7:7) God is sovereign and has the right to do what he pleases with individuals and nations, but he does not exercise his freedom of choice arbitrarily. It is prudent to know God as he has revealed himself in the Holy Scriptures. I was particularly blessed with an NIV text note regarding the reference to passages from Hosea in verses 25-26. "Paul finds in them the principal that God is a saving, forgiving, restoring God who delights to take those who are "not my people" and make them "my people." L - Lord, thank you for reminding me once again that you delight in drawing people to yourself. There are precious friends and family in my life that do not know you. Forgive me for giving up on them. Restore to me the joy of my salvation and renew a right spirit within me. In the Name of Jesus.

Romans 8

"What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?" (Romans 7:24)  


"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."             (Romans 8:37)


O, what a difference the Holy Spirit makes in the life of the believer.  Christ and the Holy Spirit work together in applying the resurrected life of Christ to the believer.  No longer is the believer condemned by the righteous requirements of the law.  No longer is the law a means of salvation. For all our devotion to God's law we still wander into ways contrary to righteousness.  Consider the closing words of the Psalmist, "I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.  Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.  I have strayed like a lost sheep.  Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands" (Psalm 119:174-176).


As the saying goes, "There's a new sheriff in town."  The previous "Authority" continually reminded us of our sinfulness, our hostility toward God and the resulting punishment and judgement.  In Christ we are now sons of God "who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:4).  Free from sin's tyranny and the law's condemnation we now live in the blessed assurance of our present sonship as well as the hope of our future destiny and resurrection with Christ. 


Paul poses a series of challenges that highlight God's commitment to our new calling in Christ:


32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 


33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 

Triumph is gained and sustained: By breaking the curse of condemnation from the soul.  By walking in the fullness of the Spirit.  By remembering that God has never promised trouble-free living, yet that he has guaranteed the certainly of our triumph through and beyond every trial.  

Lord, we rejoice in the absolute commitment that you have made to us to ensure our victory with you through grace.  

Romans 7

I, ____, take you, ____, to be my lawfully wedded(husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

If you are married or have been in a wedding or attended a wedding chances are you have heard these vows.  Question: Why mention "death" at a time when all seems focused on what is to be one of the most happiest moments of life? Ideally, nothing short of death should alter the vows being spoken. We understand, death brings an end to the relationship we call marriage.

For this reason the apostle Paul uses the institution of marriage to illustrate the believer's relationship to the law.  Death changes everything.  In the case of marriage, the widowed partner is released to be in a new relationship, if desired.  As believers our union with Christ is marked by death.  The ordinance of baptism is a vivid portrayal of our identification with the death and resurrection of Christ. The chain of disobedience and death that bound the sinner to Adam's sin is broken. Neither the law nor the wedding vows were to blame.  

As Christians, we like King David, confess a "high view" of the law, "Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." (Ps. 1:1-2).  The law in it's God ordained role to reveal our sin nature also provokes the very reaction that it condemns.  Paul assert, "the law is spiritual" (vs 14) but confesses, "I am unspiritual ."(vs15).  And, like David before him Paul finds great delight in God's law (vs 22).  Though he desires to obey God's law Paul discovers  something else at work preventing him from full obedience.  So much so that he declares, "What a wretched man I am!"

Before anyone can embrace God's cure for sin they must be aware that they are sick.  This is the grand dillusion we encounter as we minister Christ to the lost.  I dare say many attending church today fall into the same category.  Come, Holy Spirit we need you.

Romans 6

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1-2). Today we continue in the theology/doctrine section of Romans chapters (1-11). Imagine you are in a huge lecture hall waiting for the professor to call the class to order. The door opens and in walks the apostle Paul; the man formerly known as Saul. Once inside he heads straight to the white board and writes the word "sanctification". In the first part of this division (1-3), the most prominent member of the Trinity is God the Father who demonstrates His holy wrath against the sinfulness of man. In the section we just finished (4-5), we see the work of the Son in the provision of justification. In the third section (6-8), the Holy Spirit is most prominent in the work of our sanctification. Many moons ago my wife signed us up for a week long Christian seminar in Long Beach. I was not a happy camper to say the least. The thought of coming home from work only to get back in the car and fight the traffic across town . . . Not good! Midweek, the speaker began to "meddle" in my life. I soon realized that it was not the speaker. Instead, it was the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Regardless of the daily topic my predisposition was the same, "Nobody is going to tell me how to live my life." It was my awakening to the battle of the flesh (sin nature) and the Spirit. I realized that it was not condemnation at work. Condemnation drives us away from God while conviction draws us closer to The Lord. One night the speaker challenged us to commit Romans 6 to memory. The Holy Spirit leads us in the process of sanctification; molding the character of Christ in the life of the believer. Our new life in Christ, made possible through justification by faith, has an inseparable companion of sanctification and a holy life. As we continue in our reading of chapters (7-8) the apostle Paul further explains the doctrine of sanctification --the process by which the believer grows to maturity in Christ and produce holiness in the believer. "Slavery to God produces holiness and the end of the process is eternal life." (Romans 6:22 NIVStudy note). I wish I could tell you that I was able to commit the entire 6th chapter of Romans to memory. I may have failed the full test but I came away with a healthy respect for the battle that rages for the soul of man.