Highlights In Today's Reading:
Paul's mission to preach the Gospel to the Romans (1:15-17). No excuse for not knowing God (1:20). God is angry at sin (1:18-32). God judges sin (2:1-16). Jews and the Law (2:17-29). No one is righteous; all have sinned (3:10,23). Redeemed through Jesus (3:22,24).
I have always been especially drawn to the church in Philadelphia. The Lord said: I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength (that word little caught my attention), and hast kept My Word (that's the real key), and hast not denied My Name (Rev. 3:8). That has to be true. You can't be one day for the Lord and the next day unfaithful to Him.
Even though they had only a little strength, no man could shut their open door of opportunity. Isn't that great? And if you're really being honest with yourself, you don't have much strength (if any). The fact is, Jesus reminds all of us: Without Me ye can do nothing (John 15:5).
The Apostle Paul said: I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth (Rom. 1:16).
In Paul's day, the Church was despised, and often, after preaching the Gospel message, he had to flee for his life. Often he was stoned and left for dead.
It is comforting to read what Jesus said to the Church at Philadelpha even though they had only a little strength: Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man (or Satan with all his demons) can shut it (Rev. 3:8) — an open door because God has said: All things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23).
Let us be determined that we will use our little strength of faith and continue on through that open door. We know that His all-sufficiency for all our necessities and for all our opportunities is assured: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Phil. 4:13). There's a wonderful comfort in this declaration.
When we, as Christians, wholly dedicate ourselves to Christ and reserve nothing for self, then we automatically are available. Once we recognize this truth it is then easy to recognize that it is the indwelling Christ who seeks to live out His life through us.
God does not gain pleasure from what we do for Him. On the contrary, He gains pleasure from what we allow Him to do through us. Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). Never forget what the prophet of old said: O Lord, I know that . . . it is not in man . . . direct his steps (Jer. 10:23).
Thought for Today:
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Ps. 32:1).
1:13 let hitherto =prevented; 1:21 vain =morally misguided, empty, worthless; 1:29 debate =strife; malignity =depravity of heart; whisperers =gossipers; 2:22 commit sacrilege =rob temples; 3:2 oracles =the Scriptures; 3:25 propitiation =satisfaction, reconciliation, appeasement; remission =orgiveness of former sins.
For Rom. 1:17: See Hab. 2:4. Rom. 2:24: See Is. 52:5. Rom. 3:4: See Ps. 51:4. Rom. 3:10: See Ps. 14:1. Rom. 3:11: See Ps. 14:2. Rom. 3:12: See Ps. 14:3. Rom. 3:13: See Ps. 5:9. Rom. 3:14: See Ps. 10:7. Rom. 3:15: Is. 59:7. Rom. 3:16-17: See Is. 59:7-8. Rom. 3:18: See Ps. 36:1.
Pray for Staff: Dan Murton • Government Officials: Rep. Gary Ackerman (NY), Rep. Jo Bonner (AL), Sen. Tom Harkin (IA), and Rep. Lamar Smith (TX) • Country: Macedonia (2 million) in southeastern Europe • Major languages: Macedonian and Albanian • strongly Orthodox country • 67% Macedonian Orthodox; 23% Muslim; 3% Catholic; 2% Protestant; 5% Other • Prayer Suggestion: Know that God answers prayer (Ps. 118:5).
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 16:26