Devotional Thoughts on Romans 5:1-11
May 4-10, 2015
Monday, May 4, 2015
“Therefore since we are justified by faith” (Romans 5:1).
Cody was working hard on his writing assignment, when his teacher walked by his desk. She bent down and pointed to the left hand side of Cody’s paper. “Cody,” she said is a soft voice, “It’s important for you to keep the margin on this side of the paper straight and not go in and out. The only time you indent is to start a new paragraph. It’s called a justified margin. Each letter on the left side is placed directly below the letter above it just where it should be located.” Cody nodded dutifully and continued writing making sure that his left margin was justified.
We have been justified—returned to a right relationship with God. It’s nothing that we have done. Notice that the verb Paul uses is in the passive tense. Jesus through his life, death and resurrection has placed us in that position. In faith we live in the truth of what has happened.
All relationships encounter a few bumps—times when things just aren’t right. The cause could be any number of things: a difference of opinion, an unforgiven action or a crammed schedule to name a few. When action is taken to set things right, relationships become what they were meant to be—gifts from heaven.
Loving Lord, thank you that you have placed us in a right relationship with you. Enable us each day to live in this truth. Amen.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1b).
There are brief moments when peace breaks out in the Middle East. Ceasefires are observed and people can start to clean up the mess of war. This is not the type of peace to which Paul is referring. Peace is more than not fighting. Paul’s peace is a wholistic peace. Peace is living in a loving relationship once you stop fighting.
Our peace with God is a gift, but sometimes we don’t take advantage of that gift. We have our little struggles with God. God doesn’t answer a prayer that we feel desperately needs to be answered. The Holy Spirit may invite us to take a step of faith that we are hesitant to take. We might resist the conviction that we need to give up certain words, actions or attitudes that do not honor God. Our relationship with God seems more stressful than it does peaceful.
God’s gift of peace is always ours. Confession, repentance and forgiveness open the door to experiencing that peace. Trusting in God’s love and that God is our protector and provider allows us to rest in that peace. In the middle of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of life we can be embraced by God and be at peace.
Almighty God, we give you thanks and praise that no matter what happens in our lives we can experience your peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Romans 5:3).
Carlos and Lucinda threw a party for their eight year-old daughter Isabel. Isabel was cancer free. It had been a long struggle. Over the past two and one half years Isabel had endured surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Her parents had constantly been by her side sharing both tears and laughter. All of Isabel’s family and friends—scores of people—came to the party and celebrated God’s gift of health and new life.
While Carlos and Lucinda watched the festivities they reminisced about their journey. It had been hard on all of them. Sometimes it had seemed like hell on earth and their struggle through the past years had changed them. Along with a little gray around their temples, their faith had grown stronger and matured. God had given them the strength to go through the darkest times and the hope to know that better things were ahead. They were able to rest in God’s presence and love. Even when they were angry at God, God had not abandoned them.
None of us go looking for hard times. Enough of them will find us without our help. When they do, God’s loving Spirit is able to use them to shape us and transform us. We begin to take on God’s characteristics and the Spirit’s fruit becomes more abundant in our lives. Even in the most difficult of times there are reasons to give thanks.
Holy Spirit give us open hearts and minds so that you can move in the difficult times of our lives and make us into the people you want us to be. Amen.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given us” (Romans 5:5).
Things were going from bad to worse for Karen. Six months ago she had lost her job when her position was eliminated in a company reorganization. Her savings went down while the bills piled up. Though her family and friends had been supportive and helpful, they had reached their limits. Karen was nearing the end of her resources and with each passing day she became more fearful and depressed.
Feeling as if she was falling into a deep, dark hole she cried out in desperation, “God help me!” In the silence that followed she thought she heard a soft voice ask, “Do you trust me?” After a moment’s hesitation Karen sobbed, “Yes, Lord I trust you.” A sense of God’s love enveloped her and Karen knew that she could place her trust and hope in God, her loving parent.
Karen’s life did not turn around in a matter of hours. In the days that followed, though, Karen walked in the knowledge of God’s love and hope. Eventually Karen did find a job and saw the stack of bills slowly go down. Karen is thankful for that new job, but she is even more thankful for God’s love and hope with which she was blessed.
God of hope, prevent us from losing the hope that you have given us. In your love and hope, empower us to serve with strength and courage no matter what the outward circumstances. Amen.
Friday, May 8, 2015
“At the right time Christ died for us the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
What Paul meant by the phrase, “At the right time,” has been the fodder for theological discussions for centuries. The word Paul uses is Kairos—a critical time—the word from which we get crisis. At the critical time Christ died for us. Perhaps it was historically a critical time, or it might have been a theologically important moment. With Paul’s understand of God’s movement in human history, he could have meant that Christ died at the precise moment that God the Father intended for him to die.
We often have trouble with God’s timing in our lives. God has declared that God’s time is not like our time and nothing could be truer. So often God is like the cavalry in an old cowboy movie—God arrives just in the nick of time. God’s timing with coincidences is impeccable. As one pundit has said, “Coincidences are miracles when God wants to be anonymous.”
Many of the survivors of the World Trade Center on 9/11 share how timing was important for them. One missed a bus. Another waited a few extra minutes in line for a cup of coffee. Still another shared that he was delayed arriving at the towers because of a minor mishap at home. At the critical time …
God’s in charge of the time. With this in mind, we can stop looking at our watches and calendars and rest knowing that we are in God’s hands.
God of creation, though your time is not like our time, we rejoice that at the right time you acted through Jesus and that you will move in our lives at the right time, too. Amen.
Saturday, May 9, 2015
“But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Sometimes we play games—not necessarily good games—with the ones we love. We may wait to commit until our friend or partner says the words, “I love you,” and then we can repeat those words. After a disagreement we may wait for the other person to say, “I’m sorry,” before we say that we are sorry. When we are in the “response mode” there are times when we wait a long time before we hear the words, “I love you,” or “I’m sorry.” We may never hear them.
Thankfully God doesn’t wait for us to confess our love or our sin. God preempts us. Long before we have even contemplated loving God, God has declared God’s love for us. Before we contemplate asking for forgiveness God has declared our forgiveness. We can only respond to such overwhelming love.
Amazing Lord, we are overwhelmed by the love you have for us. Help us to share that love with others and not wait for them to ask. Amen.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
“Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood will we be saved through him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9).
The two boys met in Kindergarten and from the start they didn’t like each other. If asked, they wouldn’t be able to tell someone why they didn’t like the other except for the fact that they didn’t have anything in common. Their mutual dislike lasted for seven years.
When the two boys entered middle school they discovered they had a common enemy. Brad, an eighth grader decided to make life miserable for the two boys. For the first half of the school year the two boys dreaded going to school. One day they found themselves talking about their common misery. Though they didn’t like each other they decided to stand up to Brad together. The two of them faced Brad and wouldn’t back down. With the help of a teacher and their parents, Brad’s bullying days came to an end. Since that time the two boys have been the closest of friends. Out of necessity they acted together even though they were enemies. Now, they would do anything for each other because they became friends.
God has shown us God’s love while we were still in rebellion. Can we doubt the validity and the depth of God’s love now that God has gathered us into the Body of Christ and filled us with the Holy Spirit? Surely, nothing will be able to separate us from that love. God’s love is steadfast.
Precious Lord, forgive us when we doubt your love for us or complain that you don’t love us as much as you should. Assured of your love, may we constantly give you thanks and praise and live our lives in celebration of your love. Amen.