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

Bible study, books, interpretation, preaching, reading & sermon preparation: A Cautionary Word to Pastors About Internet Resources [especially wise advice for all, and insightful for understanding the needs of ministers]

“… there is a reason a lot of the resources online that have to do with the Bible are free. There is some truth to the old dictum ‘you get what you pay for.’ Some of the resources are simply junk, some are so badly out of date and out of touch with the current ministry scene that they are hardly useful, and some of them are so arcane it requires scholarly help to make good use of them. And this brings me to the second point.

“There is a need for critical judgment to select useful online resources that may indeed help one’s ministry. Critical judgment about not only technical scholarly works, but about mid-level works can only be developed over time and with good guidance. … I would stress, for the good of your soul as well as the good of your ministry, that you need to read good books, and I mean read them at a depth level, not superficially cherry picking this quote or that quote …

“What feeds good teaching and good preaching is continuing to feed your head with good resources, and to study them in some depth. You need to set aside more than an hour or two a week for such study and preparation, and the main thing you should do during that time is just read—- not outline sermons or lessons, but read…… read….. read.”

Birth of Christ, genealogy of Jesus & the birth narratives: An Amazing Genealogy of Jesus Infographic (and What It Means for XMas)

“The infographic represents both Matthew and Luke’s genealogies, showing the legal emphasis (in Matthew) meant to prove Jesus’s royal Israelite bloodline, and the biological emphasis (in Luke) traditionally linked to the family genealogy in Mary’s home. The ‘big names’ are given larger placement, with often humorous bits of info. Just a quick scan reveals how diverse, even scandalous, this genealogy really is – including kings and killers, prophets and prostitutes.”

Collection, contribution, donations, electronic giving, mobile giving, money & offering: A Case for Church Mobile Donation

“We are coming close to the time whereby a church not being able to accept online donations would be as bad as a church not being able to accept a check.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, nonviolence & pacifism: No, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Didn’t Try To Kill Adolph Hitler

“… there is no evidence that [Bonhoeffer] was actively involved in planning or attempting to assassinate Hitler– a basic fact accepted by the academy but seemingly missing from common internet discussions on Bonhoeffer.”

Prayer: When We Talk With God

“Surely one of the grandest transfers God has made in my life would be that of prayer.”

5 book & Bible suggestions as Christmas gifts

As you make your Christmas gift purchases, why not consider a book or a Bible? Following are five books I would highly recommend.

For children & parents

Sharing God’s Love: The Jesus Creed for Children by Scot McKnight & Laura McKnight Barringer

  • Shhhh, don’t tell anyone, but my kids will receive copies of this book to read to/with my grandkids.

For anyone interested in their life with God

Life Work: Confessions of an Everyday Disciple by Randy Harris

  • Honest. Thoughtful. Insightful. Stimulating. Challenging. Reflective. Relevant. Practical. Real. This is Randy Harris. And he’s at the top of his game with this book. I don’t say this about many books, but I’ll say it about this one: would that every Christian would read this book.

For Bible students

The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener

  • Your understanding of what’s going on in Scripture will take several leaps forward if you grasp something of what the original audience of Scripture was dealing with at the time. This book will help you do just that and since it’s arranged like a commentary rather than a textbook, you can instantly turn to the passage on which you’re seeking cultural, historical, and contextual insights. Though written by a scholar, it is not written in scholarese; it is quite readable.

For preachers (and teachers)

Rewiring Your Preaching: How the Brain Processes Sermons by Richard H. Cox

  • The author is a psychologist, physician, and preacher. Fascinating.

For those who enjoy the unique

The Jewish Study Bible: Second Edition

  • For my personal Bible reading project in 2015 I had originally intended to focus on the New Testament. That is, until I saw this book. Now I plan to focus on the Old Testament exclusively next year and this is the Bible I’ll use in that effort.

links: this went thru my mind

Age & habits: 15 Things to Start Doing By the Time You’re 30

“… everything on this list is worth doing in your twenties …”

Books, faith & reading: Why Christians Must Be Readers

“Whether you like it or no, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way.”

China & Christianity: Risen Again: China’s Underground Churches

“The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is wary of organized religion, and has alternately tried to crush, discourage, or co-opt Christian groups. But having survived the ravages of the Cultural Revolution, the faith is now flourishing: a 2010 study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimated there are 23 million Christians in China. In 2011, Pew Research put the figure closer to 67 million, or 5% of the population.”

Church, marriage & singles: The Bible’s Special Word About Singleness

“The church can be a difficult environment for single people to navigate. Theologies that emphasize Christian fulfillment through marriage and parenting have caused marriage and the nuclear family to be so elevated that many singles feel like there is no place for them in Christian community.”

Doctrine: The Job of Doctrine

“[T]he job of doctrine is to hold us still before Jesus. When that slips out of view, we begin instead to use this language to defend ourselves, to denigrate others, to control and correct–and then it becomes a problem.”