31 of the most powerful readings in Romans

 

Try this: read, ponder, and pray over each of the following thirty-one passages* in the book of Romans over the course of thirty one calendar days.

If you do so, I can’t imagine your mind not being moved and improved.

Good stuff!

1.1-4 – Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God — the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

1.17 – … in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

2.4 – … do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

2.28-29 – A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

3.23-25 – … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood — to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus

4.25 – He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

5.1-2 – … since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

5.6-8 – You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

6.4 – We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

7.24-25 – What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

8.1 – … there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus …

8.26 – … the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

9.1-4 – I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit — I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel …

9.15-16 – I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

10.9-10 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

10.14-15 – How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

11.22 – Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God …

11.33 – Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

12.1-2 – I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

12.4 – … just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

12.11-12 – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

12.15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

12.20-21 – “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

13.7 – Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor

13.13-14 – Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

14.1-4 – Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

14.7-8 – For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

14.13 – … let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

15.3-4 – … even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

16.19-20 – I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

16.25-27 – Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith — to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

* All of the preceding passages are from the NIV (2011).

links: this went thru my mind

 

Aliens, brotherly love, dehumanization, illegals, immigration & respect: I Don’t Know What an “Illegal” is … [required reading]

“In our culture, the way these folks are framed (‘named’) is by calling them ‘illegals.’ I am very convicted about this. … I feel I should say ‘I do not know what an illegal is. I know only humans.'”

Bible reading, lectio divina, reflection, Sermon on the Mount & transformation: Ten Minute Transformation: Ten Minutes of Lectio Divina That Can Revolutionize Your Life (Matt. 5) [required reading]

“It’s a good question. If the Christian faith is only about going to heaven, then why do we stay here on earth?”

Bible study, college & faith: Open Letter to New Testament Students

” … if I am doing my job, you are probably going to undergo a slow process of discovering that what you thought was a book is, in fact, a bunch of books; you’re going to find out that what you know is often incorrect; and what has spoken to you has been edifying, but that text may not ever be able to speak with that same voice again.”

Busyness, culture, stress & the United States: 8 Things You May Not Know about Busyness in America [infographic]

“…  eight things that we should all keep in mind about our ‘busy’ lives.”

Brotherly love, humility, others, patience, understanding & sincerity: The Thing I’d Love to Forget About the People I Disagree With [essential reading]

“…  it’s a bit disconcerting to confront the reality that it’s possible to wrestle with the same God and walk with the same limp and yet reach different conclusions. Perhaps it is in the wrestling itself that we can find some common ground.”

Discipleship, knowledge, questionnaires, spiritual formation & transformation: Christianity: Has Education Replaced Transformation

“American Christianity is turning into a massive question-and-answer quiz, and I’m probably going to fail. The Bible isn’t a textbook — but people treat it that way, and “Christianity” is becoming a pass-or-fail test. … “

Sin: Have We Grown to Overlook Sin?

“…  we tend to elevate the sin of another which is different than ours.”

this went thru my mind

 

Baytown & Mont Belvieu: Chambers Town Center

A look at the plan for the the construction of Chambers Town Center near the intersection of I-10 & Hwy. 146 in Baytown, TX.

Church, idolatry & ministry: When Church Becomes an Idol

“… what does this look like when church itself is the ‘idol’ a pastor is venerating?”

Criticism, listening, preaching, respect, selective hearing & sermons: Sick of Sermons [required reading]

“Chronic critique of sermons is an illness. …  Some sufferers have lived with this condition for so long that they have found ways to manage it: committing to ministries that pull them out of the sermon … venting … or using the sermon-time for completely unrelated spiritual exercises. The long-term prognosis is grave: spiritual malnourishment. The table that God sets for us has two parts, Word and Sacrament, and Christ is the bread of both. But we only get what we’re willing to receive. How can we fight this illness that has us always excusing ourselves from the table during the first course and frequently ruining the appetite of others? I recommend aggressive treatment.”

Discouragement, faith, humility, passion, perseverance, & zeal: Maintaining a Holy Fire When You Feel More Like an Unholy Fizzle

“… because we live in Christ we must wait for him to do the work. This is nearly a mockery to the flesh-driven personality. God, through the Spirit, opens doors and closes others. My exhilaration is when He opens them. My frustration is when none open and I impatiently knock harder.

“How do we maintain a holy fire when some days feel more like an unholy fizzle? Believe God works…and then wait on Him.”

Holiness, OMG, speech, respect & words: Is It OK for a Christian to Drop OMG’s?

“Remember, it is the trademark for the unbeliever to take God’s name in vain …”

Inspiration & interpretation: The Inspiration of Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:16

“In short, I tend not to read 2 Tim 3:16a as an assertion about scripture, but as an identification of which writings the author is talking about.”

Modesty: Modesty: I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means

“And so biblical modesty isn’t about managing the sexual impulses of other people; it’s about cultivating humility, propriety and deference within ourselves.”

Parenting: Dear Parents With Young Children [essential reading]

“You are doing something really, really important. I know it’s not easy. I see you with your arms overflowing, and I know you came to church already tired. Parenting is tiring. Really tiring.

“I watch you bounce and sway trying to keep the baby quiet, juggling the infant car seat and the diaper bag as you find a seat. I see you wince as your child cries. I see you anxiously pull things out of your bag of tricks to try to quiet them.

“And I see you with your toddler and your preschooler. I watch you cringe when your little girl asks an innocent question in a voice that might not be an inside voice let alone a church whisper.  I hear the exasperation in your voice as you beg your child to just sit, to be quiet as you feel everyone’s eyes on you. Not everyone is looking, but I know it feels that way.

“I know you’re wondering, is this worth it? Why do I bother? I know you often leave church more exhausted than fulfilled. But what you are doing is so important.”

Reading: * Read Your Bible: But How? (Lectio Divina); * Americans’ Reading Habits Over Time

* “I’ve benefited from reading large portions of Scripture–whole narratives, books, and multiple chapters–in one sitting. I’ve also benefited immensely from slowing down and meditatively just reading a few verses at a time. Lectio Divina is a way of reading Scripture that encourages that. It’s reading, as many have said, for transformation and not just information. …

“It goes like this: * 1. Read: What does the passage say? 2. Pray: What is God saying to me through this passage?  (short phrase or single word) 3. Listen: How is God calling me to respond to what he’s saying? 4. Respond: What will I commit to God to do in response?”

* “… the percentage of Americans who read a printed book in the previous 12 months fell from 72% of the population in 2011 to 67% in 2012.”

this went thru my mind

 

Bible reading & lectio divina: Lectio Divina: A Critical and Religious Reading of the Bible by Daniel Harrington

“… lectio divina (“sacred reading”) … has four steps: reading, meditation, prayer, and action. (1) Reading. Here the question is, What does the text say? … (2) Meditation. Here the question is, What does the text say to me? … (3) Prayer. Here the question is, What do I want to say to God on the basis of this text? … (4) Contemplation/Action. Those who pray with Scripture often find the exercise so engaging that they want to stay with the text, further relish its details, and integrate it into their piety. This is contemplation. Still others find that their engagement with the text may prompt them to take action.”

Capital punishment, love, mercy, murder & rape: My Most Difficult Choice: Sharing God’s Love with a Condemned Child Rapist and Murderer by Al Maxey

“… when God calls us to make choices in life, He doesn’t promise they will be easy ones. What He does promise is to give us the power and strength to meet the responsibilities and challenges of those choices.”

Change: Overcoming the Reason People Resist Change by Dan Rockwell

“Change becomes real when we have to change our own attitudes and behaviors, not until.”

Mental illness: Mental Illness, Violence and a Call for the Church by Amy Simpson

“Did you know that people with mental illness are generally no more violent than the general population? Statistically, it’s true. … Yet with our sensational media coverage and quick stereotypes, people tend to believe that their neighbors with mental illness are ticking time bombs, violent criminals just waiting for the right time to attack. The media’s emphasis on a person’s history of mental illness is meaningless. A full 25 percent of the U. S. population has a history of diagnosable mental illness. And many more of us have a history of treatment for mental health, considering all our visits to counselors. It’s not unusual in any way to have a history of treatment for mental health, yet its emphasis reinforces fear of mental illness in society and in the church itself. Such an ungenerous view of people is unbecoming for followers of Christ.”

Ministry: Lashed to the Mast: John Frye

“We are going to ordain you to this ministry, and we want your vow to stick to it. This is not a temporary job assignment but a way of life that we need lived out in our community. … Promise right now you want give in to what we demand of you. You are not the minister of our changing desires, our time-conditioned understanding of our needs, our secularized hopes for something better. With these vows we are lashing you to the mast of Word and sacrament so you will be unable to respond to our siren voices.”

Politics: Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne: A Dialogue on Politics

“The work of community, love, reconciliation, restoration is the work we cannot leave up to politicians. This is the work we are all called to do. We can’t wait on politicians to change the world. We can’t wait on governments to legislate love. And we don’t let policies define how we treat people; how we treat people shapes our policies.”

Religion & spirituality: Someone Says, “I’m Spiritual but Not Religious,” What Could Be Wrong With That?

“… one can’t afford to view spirituality as a substitute for religion. A spirituality that is disconnected from religious tradition is bereft of both community and history; it has no recourse to the benefits of a larger body of discourse and practice, and it lacks accountability. Such spirituality quickly becomes privatized and rootless, something directly opposite to the Christian understanding of ‘life in the Spirit.”

this went thru my mind

 

Attitude: What Every Hard Week Needs to Know by Ann Voskamp [required reading]

“No one knows but you do war every single day with the slanderous voices in your head and you wrestle a bit with the death dark that encroaches around the edges of everything and you’re never the only one: anyone who gets up has to push back the dark.”

Bible reading: * How to Keep a Dogged Devotion to Bible Reading by Wayne Stiles [required reading]; * Richard Foster on Lectio Divina, “Reading [Scripture] for Formation”

* “Don’t misunderstand. By “daily” I don’t mean a legalistic box to check. (Even the Pharisees did that.) No, I mean a daily, dogged devotion that listens to, watches for, and waits upon God’s wisdom as found in the Bible. Bible reading gives us that benefit.”

* “What does lectio divina mean? Well, it means listening to the text of Scripture—really listening, listening yielded and still.”

Books & reading: Leaders are Readers: 9 Tips for Picking Good Books by Rick Warren

” … how can you recognize jewels from junk when you’re looking for a book? Here are a few tips.”

Church & closing the back door: Closing the Back Door in Churches: Four Keys by Thom Rainer

“So how do we close the back door? What do we do to keep people from leaving our church or just becoming inactive?”

Confrontation: A Generous Confrontation by Jonathan Storment

“… Christian love, really Jesus-like love assumes a generous explanation. … And this is what the world needs desperately to see.  Not a group of people who are just pretending to live in community, and gossip about what’s wrong with the other people around them. They already know how that looks. What they need to see is a group of people who care enough to try and help each other be the persons God made them to be. The world needs to see, and we need to be, the kinds of people who can speak into and receive a kind word of correction. The world needs to see a people who know how to have a Generous Confrontation.”

Grace: Saturday Afternoon Book Review: Grace

“What Lucado does is give one of the greatest pictures of what God’s grace is, how far it reaches, the goal that it has and that it always accomplishes what it sets out to do.”

Grammar: Blogging Grammar Tips [3 infographics in 1]

“You can proofread to your hearts content, but if you don’t know the rules of grammar, you’re doomed to break them. Here are some solid grammar tips.”

Jesus/wife manuscript: * Coptic Scholars Doubt and Hail a Reference to Jesus’ Wife; * Response to Holladay Comment in the New York Times by Darrell Bock; * Was Jesus Married? The Latest Coptic Papyrus Won’t Tell Us by Stanley Porter; * BW3 on Jesus’ Wife? by Ben Witherington [6 1/2 min. video; the one to watch/read, if you read only one of these four links]

* “When Karen L. King, a historian of early Christianity, announced this week that she had identified a fragment of ancient Coptic text in which Jesus utters the words “my wife,” she said she was making the finding public — despite many unresolved questions — so that her academic colleagues could weigh in. And weigh in, they have.”

* “A story appeared today in the New York Times updating the discussion on the Jesus wife fragment. It quoted me. Carl Holladay of Emory commented on my view that this text could be metaphorical and challenged that reading. Here is my response.”

* “At the end of the day, this papyrus looks like it is heading in the same direction as many other similar, previous finds—a lot of hoopla over nothing (remember the Gospel of Judas?).”

Ministry: One Way to De-stress Your Pastor or Leader… by Ron Edmonson

“Tell us what the conversation is about…before the meeting.”

Mystery: Grow in Mystery by Terry Rush

“The Word speaks of mystery. My earlier years didn’t include mystery. They included many answers, explanations, and facts.  But mysteries were avoided because these didn’t contain touchable/tangible rationalization. Yet as we grow to accept mystery in this vast kingdom called God’s, there seems to be a surprising peace which had yet been experienced.  That seems odd to the control freak; me.”

Work: Work With Your Hands: A Theology of Work in 1 Thessalonians 4 by John Byron

“As the church we need to find a way to balance between helping others and not being taken advantage of. And I suspect that is the one aspect of brotherly love that is the most difficult for those who practice it; there is always the chance that we will be taken advantage of.”