Have you ever received something totally free, with no strings attached? Marketing executives often create advertising campaigns around free giveaways. They’re called “B1G1F.” That’s advertising speak for “Buy One, Get One Free!” Or “BOGOFree!” You know deep down that whatever they give away isn’t free, is it? Somebody had to pay for the free product being given away, right? That person is usually you, in the form of buying something else in the store at a greater markup to cover the cost of the free giveaway.

Well, the gift of salvation is free for you and me. All we have to do is ask for it, and God is quick to give it to us.

Immense in mercy and with incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in the highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play a major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. (Ephesians 2:4-9, MSG).

When you read this, you can’t help but see that the gift of salvation is a beautiful gift of faith, given not because of anything we’ve done but because of God’s love. He wants to shower grace and kindness upon us. Do you remember when someone just showered grace and kindness upon you? Even when you didn’t deserve it? Perhaps it was a parent, a teacher, a spouse, or a close friend.

God gives. We receive.

If you are a giver, sometimes it can be really hard to receive, can’t it?

There was a season in my life when I gave and gave and gave. I had this spreadsheet all worked out, and I was on track to give away half of my income by the time I turned 50 years old. And then I lost my job. It was my turn to receive. Boy, was that ever a challenge! But God taught me something. In order to truly appreciate the gift, I had to joyfully receive it. During this time, an almost complete stranger gave us a couple of thousand dollars. It was a sacrifice for them to give. I didn’t want to receive it. But then, I realized that if I minimized the gift, I minimized the giver.

Thanks to Jesus’ death on the Cross of Calvary and His gift of laying down His life, we have the gift of life and life eternal. And if He hadn’t been born during this Advent season, He could not have given us this incredible gift.

So open your hands, get down on your knees, and receive this most wonderful gift- the free gift of salvation.


Thank you, God, for the ultimate gift, the free gift of salvation. Please give me a heart that truly appreciates this gift and the giver. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.

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.

Isaiah 59. God’s Gifts to Us: Repentance, Redemption, Salvation, Spirit.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.


Isaiah 59.

This highlights in a very straightforward manner the cycle of sin, acknowledgment of wrongdoing which leads to repentance, and His gracious redemption.

“Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That’s why he doesn’t answer your prayers or let you see his face.” (v2, CEV). That’s pretty significant, isn’t it? Ever wonder why your prayers might not be answered? I’m not saying this is the reason behind every non-answer from God. But, examining our own heart might be a first step towards hearing from Heaven.

Confession/ Repentance.
“Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God, our sins stand up and accuse us. Our wrongdoings stare us down; we know in detail what we’ve done: Mocking and denying God, not following our God, Spreading false rumors, inciting sedition, pregnant with lies, muttering malice. Justice is beaten back, Righteousness is banished to the sidelines, Truth staggers down the street, Honesty is nowhere to be found, Good is missing in action. Anyone renouncing evil is beaten and robbed.” (v12-15, MSG). We live in an evil time, as did Isaiah. The key to a right standing with God is getting to a place where we can see our sin and repent. Turning toward God starts in a posture of humility and confession.

“God looked and saw evil looming on the horizon – so much evil and no sign of Justice… so He did it Himself, took on the work of Salvation, fueled by His own righteousness.” (v15, MSG). The Almighty turned to His one and only Son to provide our redemption. Thank you, God! “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.” (John 3:16, TPT). Yep! He did it Himself. Wow!

Our Future.
“The Lord has promised to rescue the city of Zion and Jacob’s descendants who turn from sin.  The Lord says: “My people, I promise to give you my Spirit and my message. These will be my gifts to you and your families forever. I, the LORD, have spoken.”” (v20-21, CEV).

Let us all be thankful for His work of redemption through Jesus and the promise of His Spirit to us all!

If you’re new to this journey through Isaiah, you can start here.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 12

The Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes.

Because of the importance of Israel and its people, and my personal love for The Land, I’m inviting you to join me through the key Old Testament book of Isaiah.  Each day I’m posting some simple thoughts about this complex prophet.

Isaiah 12 speaks for itself!

And you will say in that day, “I thank you, God . You were angry but your anger wasn’t forever. You withdrew your anger and moved in and comforted me. “Yes, indeed—God is my salvation. I trust, I won’t be afraid. God —yes God !—is my strength and song, best of all, my salvation!” Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water from the wells of salvation. And as you do it, you’ll say, “Give thanks to God. Call out his name. Ask him anything! Shout to the nations, tell them what he’s done, spread the news of his great reputation! “Sing praise-songs to God. He’s done it all! Let the whole earth know what he’s done! Raise the roof! Sing your hearts out, O Zion! The Greatest lives among you: The Holy of Israel.”

Isaiah 12:1‭-‬6 MSG