Series: Paul’s Letters
Romans 1:1-7 ESV
Romans 5:1-5 ESV
Romans 5:8 ESV
Romans 6:5-11 ESV
Romans 8:25-30 ESV
I’ve been a writer for a very long time. I remember third grade we were given an assignment to write a story. Even though I didn’t know what I wanted to write about, I had several ideas. My dad always helped me when my ideas swirled around in my head and he helped me by asking questions about what kind of story I wanted to write. I do not remember the story but I remember thinking how much fun it was to write.
It was an outward expression of my heart and soul.
When I read Paul’s writings I am captivated by his ability to express his love for God and articulate complex theological thoughts.
He begins his letter to the church in Rome in Romans 1:1-7 by saying, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 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, 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, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 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.”
Now while some might say his opening remarks are one long run on sentence, I look at it as one thought that reflects his depth of feeling and commitment to God the Father and God the Son.
I see woven in between the words his remembrance of the day he met Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus.
I sense Paul’s commitment and utter humility that he was called to the life he was living as an Apostle.
I feel his love and knowledge for the Old Testament scriptures which he had studied all his life. We have no concept of studying only scripture from childhood to adulthood. We must remember they did not have a diverse curriculum in school. They did not have math, science, physical education, and language as we know it. They were ultra focused on one thing…the Hebrew Scriptures.
Today we are not focused on one subject. Our education is wide but not so deep. For myself, I longed for depth even while I was young. I wanted to know more about God. In my twenties I had an appetite to memorize scripture. I wanted to be able to carry it with me wherever I went in my heart.
Most of what I memorized came from Paul’s writings. One passage was from Romans 5:1-5, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
I have carried those words in my heart.
Paul’s words in Roman’s 5:8 pierced my heart when he wrote, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
I fully know that the Spirit of the living God spoke those words to Paul’s heart as he wrote them. In the same way, the Spirit pierced me as I read them. The Spirit speaks God’s words of love for each of us telling us that daily God shows His love for us. God knew we needed His love and more than that, God loves us so much that even though we fall short daily, minute by minute, Christ still died for us. God stands with us, in us.
That concept was very difficult for me to comprehend when I was younger. I struggled to be able to accept that Jesus died for me. He loves me that much.
At the same time, He died for you. He loves you that much. Individually God chose us each one to be who He created us to be. It was (is) for a purpose…His purpose.
When I was younger I thought that purpose was for me to work for God.
I was wrong.
It wasn’t about what I could DO for God. His purpose was (is) all about loving me (you) and returning that love.
Take for example Romans 6:5-11, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Daily as we struggle with our shortcomings we are reminded by Paul’s words that each of us who chooses Jesus is personally united with God. We are united in death and united in resurrection. God is with us…in us. We are not slaves to sin because Christ set us free. Christ set me free. Jesus set you free.
Because Jesus died for each of us individually, Christ also lives with us individually. It’s personal. Jesus made it so we are dead to sin and alive in God.
So…I came to see that each word Paul wrote to the church in Rome was very deep and wide.
As we read Paul’s words written to the church in Rome we only begin to grasp the depth and width of God’s love and commitment to us.
Having said that, I must end on one section of scripture that continuously comforts and captivates my own heart and soul. Paul wrote in Romans 8:25-30, “we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
We do not see God but we believe and we hope.
The Spirit stands ready to help us even when words fail us and the Spirit intercedes for us.
Those who love God are promised that ALL things work together for good. All things…ALL for you.
God calls. God justifies. God glorifies.
Spiritual Practice: Receive
Open your hands and your heart as God calls to you (sings words of love to you). God justifies you. God glorifies you in and through Jesus.
In God, Deborah