New Testament In a Year: July 31 – Romans 4

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Romans 4
(1-12) Abraham Justified by Faith
We all can claim Abraham as our “father” of faith, and Jesus the Christ is often called the “son” of David. Neither of them, however, were justified by works. And neither was Abraham justified by circumcision. Both Abraham and David believed God and their faith was counted to them as righteousness. It is through this faith that Christ forgave their lawless deeds and covered their sin. Whether we are circumcised (Jews) or uncircumcised (Gentiles), if we walk in the footsteps of the faith of our father Abraham, we too will experience the justification of Christ.

(13-25) The Promise Realized Through Faith
God told Abraham that he would make him into the father of many nations. Despite being almost one hundred years old and despite having a wife whose womb was barren, Abraham did not waver in faith at the promise God made him. Humanly speaking, the promise was impossible. But Abraham, believed in hope against hope, and had full confidence that the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence things that do not yet exist, was able to do what He said He would do. There were times when it did not look like the promise would be fulfilled, but these dim times only strengthened Abraham’s faith in God and in the promise of God.

This incident was not only written for Abraham’s sake, but for our sakes as well. If we have faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, our faith will also be counted to us as righteousness.

Favorite verse: (21) Fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.

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New Testament In a Year: July 30 – Romans 3

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Romans 3
(1-8) God’s Righteousness Upheld
At the end of Romans 2, Paul writes that a Jew is not “merely one outwardly,” but “one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart.” If this is the case, what advantage does a Jew have over Gentiles? One of the advantages of being an “outward” Jew is that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. They had the written Scriptures before any one else. Their faithlessness or unbelief of the Scriptures does not negate the faithfulness of God and the Scriptures. The same goes for us. If we do not believe God’s Word, our unbelief does not make God’s Word a lie. Our unrighteousness does not mean that God is not righteous. In fact, our unrighteousness serves to better show His righteousness; and our lies more clearly reveals His truth.

(9-20) No One Is Righteous
Jews are not better off than Gentiles and neither are Gentiles than Jews. All of us are under sin and none of us are righteous. No good works that we may do are good enough to justify us before God.

(21-30) The Righteousness of God Through Faith
Only Christ is able to justify us before God by grace, through faith. It doesn’t matter whether we are Jew or Gentile. If we put our faith in Christ, His righteousness is placed on us and we are cleansed by His precious blood, so that we are no longer found guilty before God. Since we are justified by faith and not by any of our good deeds, our boasting must be excluded. We cannot say that we have saved ourselves.

Favorite verse: (4) By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

New Testament In a Year: July 29 – Romans 2

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Romans 2
(1-11) God’s Righteous Judgment
Those who judge and condemn others, are actually judging and condemning themselves. By acknowledging that there is a standard of righteousness, they acknowledge that there is a God. God is the only one who can rightly judge because He is the only one who is perfectly righteous. God is the standard and all those who fall short of His standard (which is everyone) is under His judgment. Those who believe in His Son, Jesus the Christ, however, escape His judgment and experience His mercy.

It doesn’t matter whether someone is Jew (with the law) or Gentile (without the law), God shows no partiality. Those who have faith in Christ and patiently strive for glory, honor, and immortality, God will give eternal life. But to those who do not obey the truth of God, but are self-seeking and full of unrighteousness, God will judge in wrath and fury.

(12-29) God’s Judgment and the Law
Even though it is not as clear as God’s law, there is a natural law written in the heart and on the conscience of every human being. This natural law helps us discern between what is right and what is wrong, so that all are on equal grounds before God’s judgment. Paul tells Jews that even though they have the written law, this does not mean they are accepted by God. Those who are accepted by God are not those who have the law, know the law, and teach the law while breaking the law. Those who are accepted by God are those who do the law.

Favorite verse: (15) They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.

New Testament In a Year: July 28 – Romans 1

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Romans 1
(1-7) Greeting
Paul’s letter to the saints in Rome largely focuses on God and the salvation that is available through faith in His Son, Jesus the Christ. In his greeting, Paul describes himself as a servant and as an apostle who has been set apart to preach the Gospel of God. This shows that Paul is not interested in promoting his own doctrine. He is completely dedicated to the work and the message of the One Who saved him. Because of the grace of God he is dedicated to sharing his faith among all nations in hopes of bringing all souls to faith in Christ. We are created by God, and are called to belong to His Son.

(8-15) Longing to Go to Rome
Paul desires to visit the saints in Rome in order to strengthen them with the spiritual gift of the Gospel, so they can both be encouraged by one another’s faith. He is already doing the most important work for them (which is praying), but now he also wishes to have the opportunity to bring Jews and Gentiles in Rome to faith in Jesus the Christ.

(16-17) The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
More than any one else in the Bible, Paul emphasizes over and over again that the Gospel is the “power of God for salvation” to EVERYONE who believes in Christ – Jews and Gentiles, poor and rich, male and female. It is by faith and faith alone that we are made righteous, not by good works and not by anything else.

(18-32) God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
No human being has any excuse to not believe in God because even without hearing the Gospel, God has made His eternal power and divine nature evident in all that He has created. Look at the stars, the ocean, the mountains, the planets, the galaxies, look at yourself, and look at the millions of other people on planet Earth, and no one can honestly say that there is no God. God, however, will not force anyone to believe in Him. When human beings consistently and determinedly reject God, God steps back from His creation and gives them up to their sin and their own depravity.

Favorite verse: (20) For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

New Testament In a Year: July 27 – Acts 28

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Acts 28
(1-10) Paul on Malta
Even though there were soldiers, sailors, other prisoners, and natives on the island of Malta, it was Paul who gathered sticks to make a fire. He did not think he was above serving. Even after being unjustly imprisoned and surviving a storm, he looked out for the interests of others above his own. Paul’s faith in God was so strong, that he did not fear death at the hands of man or at the teeth of a viper. He was probably unconcerned about the viper fastening on his hand because he remembered that God had promised that he would bear witness of Him at Rome. He was not yet at Rome, so he knew that God would not let anything happen to him before His promise was fulfilled.

It was raining and cold and the natives of Malta were strangers to Paul and his companions, but Paul did not hesitate to do good among them. When he heard that Publius’ father was sick, he visited him, prayed with him, and healed him. Through the power of God, he also healed others who had diseases.

(17-31) Paul in Rome
For two years, Paul lived in Rome and bore witness of God just as God said he would. He preached salvation to Jews and Gentiles alike – some believed, others did not. He never let unbelief and disagreement shut him up though; he went on proclaiming the kingdom of God with boldness until his death. The Bible does not say, but historical tradition has it that Paul was tortured and then beheaded by Rome’s Emperor Nero in A.D. 67.

Favorite verse: (4) When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.”

New Testament In a Year: July 26 – Acts 27:27-44

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Acts 27:27-44
(27-38) The Storm at Sea
This time, when Paul told the centurion and the sailors not to do something (namely, leave the ship), they listened to him. Because of his calm confidence and unshakable faith in God, the sailors and soldiers felt like they could trust Paul. Even though he had assured them that no one would die from the storm, some of the sailors and soldiers were still afraid which is evidenced by their not eating. They heard Paul’s word, but they did not believe Paul’s word. Similarly, it is not enough for us to hear God’s Word and read His promises, we must also believe His Word and receive His promises in order to gain benefit from them.

(39-44) The Shipwreck
The ship was destroyed, but just as God had told Paul, no lives were lost.

Favorite verse: (34) Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”

New Testament In a Year: July 25 – Acts 27:1-26

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Acts 27:1-26
(1-12) Paul Sails for Rome
Even though he was a prisoner, God allowed Paul to find favor in the sight of centurion. He was treated kindly and allowed to go to his friends and be cared for.

(13-26) The Storm at Sea
Earlier, Paul had told the centurion, the pilot, and the owner of the ship, that they did not need to sail in the storm. They did not listen to Paul, and now they were stuck in a tempestuous northeaster wind and feared that death was near. In the midst of this discouraging time, Paul stood up and encouraged those around him to take heart. He assured them that no one would lose their life, because he had faith in God that everything would be exactly as God had told him. Paul was calm in the storm’s chaos because his faith was in his Creator, and he directed others to have faith in Him too.

Favorite verse: (25) So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.

Women of the Word: Gilead’s Wife and Jephthah’s Mother

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In Judges 11:1-2, we are introduced to a guy named Jephthah the Gileadite. He was a mighty warrior who later became a judge of Israel. His father was Gilead. His mother was a prostitute. From the way his half-brothers treated him, it is likely that his mother was out of his life. Verse 2 reads:

Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” Continue reading