Romans 16

Highlight:I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 

Explain: In the close of his letter to the Romans, Paul urges the people to be on the lookout for those “who cause divisions and create obstacles” to the gospel. These people are to be avoided. The reasons are that they serve themselves and not Christ and that they are very deceptive. They use “smooth talk” and “flattery” to get gullible people to join their crusade. The antidote to this divisiveness is obedience, focus and faith: I obey what God  has shown me to do; I am wise about how the Bible is supposed to impact my life and I don’t listen to the voices of evil all around me; last I trust God to fight my battles and crush Satan.

Apply:This is a very important passage for the church today. Those who cause division actually create obstacles to the gospel. For this reason we have to be very careful to avoid divisive people. From this passage, divisive people are defined as those who take our focus from “doctrine” (i.e. the Gospel) and focus us on things that divide us. Instead, we have to stay focused on gospel and trust God to win our victories for us.

Respond: I want to develop a sermon on this text
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Romans 15

Highlight:30Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. 31Pray that I will be rescued from those in Judea who refuse to obey God. Pray also that the believers there will be willing to accept the donation I am taking to Jerusalem. 

Explain: As Paul nears the end of his letter to the Romans he asks them to “join in his struggle” for the gospel by praying for him. This is powerful. We have the ability, through prayer, to actually join in the work of those spreading the gospel.

Apply:

Our prayer for missions is needed because of the partnership it offers30Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me.

Our prayer for missions is motivated by our love for the people we pray forDo this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.

Our prayer for missions is specified as our rescue from the people who attack. Pray that I will be rescued from those in Judea who refuse to obey God.

Respond

I will pray specifically for our missionaries today!

Rusty Russell

Romans 14

Highlight:17for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 

Explain: 

Paul tells the Romans that they must not get all caught up in imposing their own particular convictions on others—whether those convictions allow or prohibit certain activities that are not clearly defined in the Word of God. In vv 17-18, he lays out what is important when it comes to living a life that both pleases God and gains the approval of man. He lists three elements to a successful Christian life. They are the things that being a Christian is about. They are:

  • Righteousness: Perhaps the best definition of “righteousness” when you are speaking of how we live out our faith is “congruence.” By congruence I mean that the way I live my life lines up with the faith that I proclaim. I obey the Word of God.
  • Peace: Peace is completeness or wholeness. It is freedom from distraction. I have an undistracted mind focused on God.
  • Joy: Joy is the complete confidence I have in God, both in my moment-by-moment life and in the destination of that life. 

Apply:

So I must live my life seeking: 

  • A complete congruity between what I claim and how I live.
  • A complete focus on God and what He wants, not what I want.
  • A complete confidence that God is able to do what He promises to do.

Respond

I will consciously seek this life today.

Rusty Russell

Romans 13

Highlight:

8Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law . . . 11And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Explain: 

In these verses Paul shows us the means of living a holy life.

  1. It’s motivations are:
    1. Love – Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law . . .
    2. Promises – Our salvation is drawing near – 11And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12The night is far spent, the day is at hand.
  2. It’s decisions are:
    1. Cast off the works of darkness
    2. Put on the armor of light
    3. Walk properly – Live holy, appropriate lives.
  3. It’s distractions are 
    1. The desire to escape reality instead of dealing with it. (revelry and drunkenness)
    2. The desire to indulge your lust instead of controlling it (lewdness and lust)
    3. The desire to demand your rights instead of serving others (strife and envy)
  4. It’s priority is: A relationship with Jesus that satisfies, not the seeking of satisfaction in fulfilling your desires.

Apply:

If I am going to live a holy life I have to have the right motivations (love and the promises of God). I also have to make the right decisions: Casting off the works of darkness, putting on the armor of God and living my life according to the Word of God. There will be distractions that my enemy will seek to use against me. He will try to get me to escape reality, indulge my wrong desires and to focus on getting from others instead of giving to others. Finally, all of this hinges on what my priority is. Will I develop a satisfying relationship with Christ or will I seek satisfaction in fulfilling my desires.

Respond

I will seek my satisfaction in my relationship with Christ today.

Romans 12

Scripture: Romans 12:11
Highlight:Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically
Explain:  Paul tells us that we are to live our lives as a sacrifice to God, then fleshes out what that means in a series of practical instructions for our everyday life. V.11 addresses how a disciple who is living as a sacrifice should work for God. He tells us not to be lazy but to serve Christ with great enthusiasm. 
Apply: There are at least three ways to do our work for the Lord. We can: Be lazy – That is, we can NOT do our work and find excuses for our neglect. Paul says that this is something that we should “never” do. Instead we should work hard!Check the box – That is, we can go through the routine of our work with a disconnected heart. This will take us through our “list” of tasks, but will not really be effective at achieving the spiritual impact God has designed for us. For instance, we can preach, walking through our outline, but not have any spiritual power.Surrender as we serve – Paul says here that we should serve “enthusiastically.” An alternate reading offered by the NLT is “let the Spirit excite you as you serve.” I like that reading! Instead of being lazy or checking the box, we can consciously surrender to the Spirit as we are serving and be intentionally surrendered to His work IN us as He works THROUGH us.
Respond Today I will serve with an intentional surrender to the Spirit!

Romans 11

Scripture: Romans 11:33–36 (NLT) 
Highlight  33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! 34 For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? 35 And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? 36For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. 
Explain: In Romans 11, Paul explains that God is not finished with Israel. While they have temporarily been hardened to Christ so that the Gentiles could be received, God will save Israel in the long run. Meantime, the Gentiles should not be arrogant and think that God has chosen them above Israel. They should simply trust in God. When he reaches the end of this passage on God’s sovereign plan of action in the world, he pauses to worship God speaking of how great His wisdom and knowledge are. V36 is a powerful summary of Who God is in one sentence: 36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.
Apply: What can I learn from this chapter?God is sovereignly in control of everything, even salvation.Man is completely responsible for his own fate and cannot blame God. Time and again these verse clearly delineate the choice of man as the culprit for his condition.Understanding these truths completely is beyond us and must rest in the great wisdom and knowledge of God. God’s essence is explained by:His absolute resourcefulness: Everything comes from Him. He is the source of everything.His complete control – Everything exists by His powerHis focused motive – Everything is intended for His glory.
Respond I will meditate on God’s essence today: His absolute resourcefulness, His complete control, His focused motive.

Rusty Russell

Romans 10

Scripture: Romans 10:5-9
HighlightFor Moses writes that the law’s way of making a person right with God requires obedience to all of its commands. But faith’s way of getting right with God says, “Don’t say in your heart, ‘Who will go up to heaven?’ (to bring Christ down to earth). And don’t say, ‘Who will go down to the place of the dead?’ (to bring Christ back to life again).” In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach: If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 
Explain: Paul is arguing that salvation comes through faith not through keeping the law. Here he says that the person who wants to be saved by keeping the law will have to work very hard with strenuous effort to keep ALL the commands of the law (and ultimately fail!). The way of faith, however, is not some strenuous effort on our part: We don’t have to personally incarnate nor resurrect Christ. (By the way, the chances of us keeping ALL the law would be about the same chance we would have of raising Christ from the dead!) The salvation of faith says that your salvation is already in your heart and on your lips! If you will openly declare with your lips that Jesus is your Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved by grace alone, through faith alone.
Apply: Salvation by our own work is THE religion of the world. Through his own morality or ritualistic acts, man hopes to justify himself. When I can work my way to heaven, the person in control of salvation is man himself. This is the WORST sin a person can commit: to trust in his own effort because it denies God the control and the worship He deserves. Salvation by faith is difficult because we must rest and not work; trust and not doubt; surrender and not control.
Respond I will share this with someone I as witnessing to.