For this familiar passage that is replete with ponderable phrases I am going to share my journal entries this week that took the form of prayers.
Father, I am grateful for your mercy. You have withheld from me what I deserve – your fierce wrath. And instead you have rescued me and given me LIFE. It only makes sense that I would then offer my life to You as a living sacrifice. It only makes sense that I demonstrate my gratefulness by offering my body as an act of worship. Today would You take my eyes, my mouth, my hands, my feet, my mind – and may I find joy in the offering.
Father I am grateful that many years ago you changed my heart from a heart of stone to a heart that beats for You. Would You continue the process now of transforming my mind so that I don’t conform to the patterns of this world but rather live a life of holiness that is pleasing and acceptable to You.
Father, I confess that in many ways I have conformed to the patterns of this world. I have allowed the world to squeeze me into it’s mold rather than allowing Your Spirit to shape me and change me into the new creation that I am supposed to be. Today would You make me aware of areas where I have allowed this to happen and begin to wean me from my worldly ways so that in the years that I have left I will be a living sacrifice upon the altar of Your mercy and grace.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Great theology leads to God exalting worship!
It is not uncommon for Paul in his epistles to get “sidetracked” and throw out something like these verses. As he thinks about God and writes about God and teaches about God it is as if he is compelled to worship God. The Book of Romans is the most theological of all the epistles that he wrote. Paul is thinking deeply about the ways of God and in doing so his soul is moved to exalt God.
2 takeaways from this passage for me this week:
1) Take time to think deeply about God – We do not do this very much as the people of God. It takes time. It takes intentionality. It means using our brain. But until we make this a regular practice we will most likely maintain our feeble faith and our walk with God will be fragile at best.
2) Take time to worship throughout the week – Our worship should not be limited to a service on Sunday. As we spend time in God’s Word and in His presence through prayer we should take the time to exalt the One who is above all gods and who has graciously brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Thinking about God should lead us into worship of God.
May we be “sidetracked” this week just as Paul was.
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 12:1-2 Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-27
I’ve got a few takeaways from this passage, which admittedly raises as many questions as it answers.
1) I am very grateful that God has chosen by His grace to rescue me and give me life in Jesus Christ. And as someone with a Jewish heritage this passage excites me because it indicates that God yet has great plans for His chosen people. Despite their rebelliousness and disbelief He has not given up on them. Perhaps God also yet has great plans in mind for me.
2) This passage also reminds me that as my loving Father, God will not give up on me either when I disappoint Him and act out in deceitful, duplicitous ways. Check out this Our Daily Bread article by Herbert Vander Lugt…
In a moment of exasperation, a father told me that if his son continued in his rebellious ways he was going to disinherit him and try to forget him. But I knew that father well. Although he was angry, hurt, and disappointed, I was sure he would never quit loving his son and longing for his conversion.
Good parents cannot forget how they cared for their children as infants, how they helped them take their first steps, and how they shared with them in both happy and painful growing-up experiences. But when children choose a sinful lifestyle, even good parents, after repeated pleas and warnings, may have no choice but to let them go their own way. Parents will do so with broken hearts and with the undying hope that their prodigal will one day return.
In Hosea 11, God is portrayed as Israel’s Father. Because the nation had disobeyed, He had pleaded with them and chastened them time and time again. Yet they refused to change their ways. Finally, God withdrew from them and let them learn the hard way. Yet even then, He could not and would not completely abandon them. One day He will draw them back to Himself (Romans 11:26-27).
God loves His children today with that same kind of tough love. What a wonderful heavenly Father!
At times we spurn our Father’s love
And choose a sinful path;
Yet He will not abandon us,
Though righteous in His wrath. —D. De Haan
God loves us not because of who we are, but because of who He is.
My pondering this week is not so much about the passage itself as it is about the hermeneutical principle that the passage demonstrates. “Hermen who?”, you might ask, if this is a word that is not familiar to you. Hermeneutics is the study of the principles of interpretation concerning the books of the Bible.
Paul demonstrates a primary hermeneutical principle here in Romans 11 that is important to understand. He is grappling with an issue that even he is trying to wrap his astute mind around – the issue of what about the people of Israel when it comes to salvation. This is his issue. But we all have our own issues when it comes to trying to understand passages of Scripture. Particularly ones that we don’t necessarily like what they say. Perhaps it is an issue about marriage or divorce or sex or hell or the role of women or church government or abortion. There are lots of issues that people disagree on regarding matters of interpretation.
Hermeneutical principle numero uno goes like this: Let Scripture interpret Scripture. In other words, if there is a passage that you don’t understand, look at the whole body of Scripture regarding that subject and let God’s Word speak for itself. This is what Paul is doing in this passage. Notice the number of other Scripture references from the Older Testament that Paul uses in this passage to help explain the dilemma he is dealing with. I count four. This is the way to do biblical interpretation.
But it is not the way that it is usually done nowadays. More often than not here are some of the principles of interpretation that I see being used today:
People make up their own interpretations to suit the outcome that they desire
People ask their friends (usually people who are like-minded) what they think hoping to get “interpretational ageeability.”
People find “scholars” who say what they want them to say
People dismiss the passage and keep doing what they want to do anyway
No doubt there are other ways. But my point is this. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. I love what Acts 17:11 says about the folks in the church in Berea – “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” They didn’t take Paul’s word for the stuff he was saying but rather searched the Scriptures for themselves to make sure that it was in line with what God had already said.
May it be true also of us!
Next Week’s Passage: Roman 11:11-32 Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-26
We are saved by faith – faith in what Christ accomplished on our behalf on the cross; and we walk through this life by faith – trusting that the God who rescues us from hell will also be our refuge and strength as we journey towards eternity.
Where does this faith come from? In both cases it comes from the Word of God! This is what struck me from this passage this week: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the Word of God.” (10:17)
God saves us as we put our faith in Christ and His redemptive work. As we hear the Word of God, the Spirit of God awakens within us a desire to know Him and to be reconciled to Him. The Word of God makes us aware of our own sinfulness. It shows us why the cross was so necessary. It gives us understanding regarding the power of the resurrection. And it pleads with us to repent and turn from our wicked ways and turn to the One who offers us life. Saving faith comes from hearing the Word of God.
God sustains us as we live by faith day to day, relying on Him to feed us and fuel us with everything that we need to live live’s honoring to Him. As we hear the Word of God, we are encouraged, we are convicted, we are comforted, we are strengthened. Sustaining faith comes from the Word of God.
This is why the preaching of the Word is so vital to the church. And this is why it is so important to read and study the Word on your own. The goal is not to merely survive until we get to heaven. The goal is to thrive as God’s Word nourishes, sustains and supplies what we need to be “more than conquerors.”
Want more faith? Need more faith?
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God!
Next Week’s Passage: Romans 11:1-10 Memory Verses: Romans 8:1-25