Romans 16. Enjoy the Best of Jesus!

The setting sun behind Mt. Arbel, along the Sea of Galilee. Jesus prayed here with his followers.

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

You may play today’s devotional message here. (4:43)

Romans 16.
Congratulations! We’ve read through Romans together. So much we have learned about God’s plan for us and His grace. And, about Paul.
This is a full chapter of greetings to those in the church at Rome. Almost 30 people. And they are likely from more than one congregation. I’ve wondered about Peter. It seems his name is conspicuously absent? Tradition says he was the first Pope in Rome. But that’s a conversation for another day. I do love that Paul calls out by name many women who love and serve God. I think that’s significant. Think about Paul as a former pharisee. His old tradition would likely not have given much attention to the women of the synagogue. I believe this acknowledgment is evidence of real life transformation in his new walk with the Messiah!
He also includes a warning to watch out for those who say they follow the Master, but who’s actions are deceptive. And he affirms their obedient discipleship. They are following his call to spiritual maturity (which we talked about yesterday): I am glad that everyone knows how well you obey the Lord. But still, I want you to understand what is good and not have anything to do with evil. (v19, CEV).
My big takeaway from today’s reading: “Enjoy the best of Jesus!” (v20, MSG.) What a great way to conclude a letter!
He states again the reason he has written this dispatch. And it is a source of strength for us all:
Praise God! He can make you strong by means of my good news, which is the message about Jesus Christ. For ages and ages this message was kept secret, but now at last it has been told. The eternal God commanded his prophets to write about the good news, so that all nations would obey and have faith. And now, because of Jesus Christ, we can praise the only wise God forever! Amen. (v 25-27, CEV).
“Enjoy the best of Jesus!”
What is this Good News? Let’s review the Gospel Message along this Romans Road, a map to our salvation through the pages of this single letter:
1. The Human Condition —  We are all sinners.

All of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it: There’s nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They’ve all taken the wrong turn; they’ve all wandered down blind alleys. No one’s living right; I can’t find a single one. (Romans 3:9-10, MSG).

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, NIV).

Sin pays off with death.  (Romans 6:23a, CEV).

2.  We Have Hope — Thanks to Jesus. “But God…”
But God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23b, CEV).
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. (Romans 5:8, NLT).
3.  Our Response — Calling Out to Jesus.
If you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be delivered. For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgement and thus continues toward deliverance. (Romans 10:9-10, CJB).
“Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ gets help.” (Romans 10:13, MSG).
4. The Result of Salvation — Peace and Grace.
By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace with God. (Romans 5:1, CEV).
So there is now no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit—and this power is mine through Christ Jesus—has freed me from the vicious circle of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2, NLT).
It’s our power too!
I’ve really appreciated your joining me on this journey. Thank you! Looking back over my journal, I want to go back to Chapter 1 and start it all over again!
Enjoy the best of Jesus today!
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Romans 3, Part 2. We are Sinners, But God!

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans, Chapter 3 introduces us to the beginning of the so-called Romans Road. Paul takes the reader through several stops and outlines the basic plan of salvation. It begins with the definition of the human condition — we are all sinners — and leads us to God’s plan for our salvation through Jesus, the Messiah.

Paul first quotes from the Psalmist, who imagines God looking down from heaven upon mankind: “All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Psalms 14:3, NIV).

In his own words, the Apostle says it this way: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, NIV).

Jesus freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.

On the journey of this pathway to heaven, every single one of us must ultimately make this confession: We are sinners. The word “sin” means to miss the mark, like an archer who’s arrow falls woefully nowhere near his intended target. There is no way that any of us can be as holy as God is holy. Paul is not pointing fingers at other people’s behavior either, for he says about himself in the letter to his pupil Timothy: “Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy.” (1 Timothy 1:15, MSG).

Our first stop on the Romans Road is your problem and my problem too! We are human beings, created in God’s image, but we are not divine. We will never become God. There is nothing we can do to earn our way into His presence. Yet He is fair; He gives us all a choice: “God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.” (Romans 3:22‭-‬24, CEV).

We are sinners… But God! Jesus welcomes us all! He sets things right for us. It’s a pure gift, which is undeserved since we are all sinners. But thanks be to God and His grace! HE sets things right! Always! And, indeed, we can be so very thankful! And humbled that He loves us.

“God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear.” (Romans 3:25, MSG).

Yesterday we talked about “dialing in” to God’s frequency; turning our hearts and ears to intentionally listen to Him and His ways for our lives. Like a child who must crawl before he walks and walk before he runs, it begins with this first step. We must admit to God that even our best actions are flawed. As humans we are sinners.

So does this mean we are free to not “do right?”  Paul asks and answers this same question: “Does emphasizing our faith invalidate the law? Absolutely not. Instead, our faith establishes the role the law should rightfully have.” (Romans 3:21, TPT).

Some may ask, why? Why is it that none of our best attempts to follow God’s decrees are good enough for God? I believe it’s because it sets Jesus apart for who He is… 100% man and 100% God. He is the only one who never sinned. So, it is only through the recognition of His sacrifice, only through Jesus that we are truly free.

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.