Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May 9 - Romans 11 & 12

Today's reading in our daily plan is Romans 11 & Romans 12. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Today's first chapter is challenging to understand and apply, but don't worry, Romans is about to get easier! Here is an overview of the meaning of this chapter...
  • God has not rejected the Jews. There is a remnant that have stayed true to God through grace, not works.
  • Unfortunately, the rest have rejected God. However, they are not beyond recovery. God is gracious and patient with everyone.
  • Gentiles (non-Jews) who trust in Jesus are described as branches grafted into an olive tree. Olive and grape growers in the Mediterranean region commonly use grafting to improve their fruit. A weak branch is grafted to a sturdy root. The idea of this analogy is that previously they had been weak when they didn't know God, but now they are growing wild and strong in their faith. However, they shouldn't be arrogant about this.
  • Paul says that "all Israel will be saved." Bible scholars interpret this in several different ways. Some believe it means that the nation of Israel will be preserved, which it has been. Some think it may mean that eventually the Jews will turn to Jesus and back to God. Others think Paul is not referring to the Israel that follows in the blood-line of Abraham, but instead the "Israel" who follows in the faith of Abraham. All are interesting and valid view points.
  • The chapter ends with a great expression of wonder at God’s wisdom.
  • After spending 11 chapters on theology, Paul's writing makes a dramatic turn. Now, the final few chapters of Romans focus on living by faith.
  • Paul begins by encouraging us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. A sacrifice in ancient times was an animal that was killed to please the gods. Paul is saying Christians should consider themselves dead to their old way of life and live only to please God. 
  • The next verse offers a promise if we obey. Have you ever wanted to know what God's will for your life was? Well, Paul explains that IF we are not conformed to the world and transformed by the renewing of our minds, THEN we will know God's will. 
  • Paul then reminds us of very practical issues:
    • Humility: do not think too highly of yourself. 
    • Love sincerely, hate evil, do good, be devoted, serve God, and honor others. 
  • The "body of Christ" refers to the church, and the body of Christ is like your physical body. It is one body with many parts. We each have different roles and we each have different gifts. Whether you serve coffee at Verve on Sunday morning, give hugs to a hurting friend, preach from the stage, or are financially able to give to the needy, they are all important and unique ways of sharing God's love and they all work together.
  • It can be difficult to live at peace with everyone. We all have enemies. But Romans says we are to live in harmony. Instead of taking revenge, we should seek to meet our enemies needs. May sound easier said than done, but we can with God's help. And the only way to overcome evil is with kindness. So we need to let God take care of the situation and settle the score the way he sees fit.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The key factor with God is our belief. The Jews believed, then stopped, and were "cut off." The Gentiles didn't believe, then did, and so were "grafted on." The most important thing in your life is faith in God through Jesus. We need to do everything we can to continue to build up and live out our faith.
  • The way of life Paul describes here is radically different from what the world tells us. We’re not just talking about being a considerate person, but going beyond that and blessing those that persecute us, being friends with people of low position, and being willing to serve others.
  • How do we live the life God wants for us? It starts by having our minds renewed. Reading the Bible and applying it to our lives is one way to transform our minds. Always being available to God is important too. God doesn’t use people with ability; instead, he shows his awesomeness to and through people who make themselves available to Him.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Make a commitment to have your mind renewed. Daily Bible reading and weekly attendance at church (where we hear Bible teaching) is a huge part of that.