Romans 13:8

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman  has fulfilled the law.

I have always enjoyed the feeling you get when you pay a debt in full.  It is a good thing not to owe money to someone or some institution.  Here, though, is a debt that is never paid in full.  It is continuing and never ending, but it is not a burden to owe this debt.  It is a JOY and we make payments on it for the rest of our lives on earth – LOVE ONE ANOTHER!

Romans 12:9-13

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.

The English teacher in me rose up when reading this passage.  If you look closely, these are not suggestions; they are in the imperative voice, which means they are commands.  Vs. 10 specifically caught my attention.  “Be devoted to one another.”  The actual Greek word for devoted in this section means tenderly loving, kindly affection.  Webster’s dictionary definition: dedicated, very loving, loyal or faithful.  So…the command with regard to each other comes down to this: be tenderly loving toward one another.  With kindly affection be dedicated, loyal and lovingly faithful.    This is a command.  obeying it means we treat all our Christian brothers and sisters in this way – husbands, bosses, friends, siblings.  Obeying just this one command could revolutionize our lives and ministries as we act this way toward one another.

Romans 11: 2-4

God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.  Don’t you know that the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah  – how he appealed to God against Israel:  “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left and they are trying to kill me”?  And what was God’s answer to him:  I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Elijah was desperate.  He could see only those who had turned against the Lord.  God, though, knew of 7,000 who had not turned away.  I find that to be a great comfort.  Sometimes our society and even the whole world seems to be spinning out of control, away from morality, away from godliness, bent on evil.  Our God, though, knows of the ones who love Him, who  cling to godliness, and who flee from evil.  Because of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, God has reserved us to Himself.

Romans 10: 1 thru 4

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.  For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.  Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own they did not submit to God’s righteousness.  Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

God gave the Israelites the Law through Moses.  By the time Jesus arrived in human history there were 365 religious laws to be kept.  Instead of submitting to the purity of the Law God gave them, they established their own system of religiosity, and obtained SELF-righteousness instead of the righteousness of God.  The Jews were so busy keeping their religious laws, they failed to see the One Who had come to fulfill the law and set them free to live a life of love, grace and mercy.

Romans 9:31-33

…but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.  Why not?  Because they pursued it not by faith but as i it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone”.  As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him  will never be put to shame.”

The Jewish people  were taught by their religious leaders to be busy keeping the law.   In doing this,  they failed to see the One Who had come to fulfill the law and set them free for a life of love, grace and mercy.  It is easy to become self-righteous in our religious activities – church, Bible Study, Sunday School.  Pursue Jesus Christ and there is less chance we will miss the opportunities to be full of grace and mercy.

Romans 8: 5 and 6

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…

…have their mind set on what the Spirit desires

…the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.  What does this mean – a Spirit controlled mind?  It means meeting the every day problems of life with the things of God, not the wisdom of the world or the responses of a sinful nature.

A person you work with rubs against you, exercise patience.  You and a friend are struggling with your relationship, remember to love one another as Christ  has  loved you.  Treated unfairly by someone in authority over you,  trust God for faithfulness and self-control.  These are the opportunities to practice the Christian life,  responding with holiness to the occasions of life in a fallen creation.

Romans 7:6

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Being a visual person, the picture I see here is that of a hot air balloon.  Tethered to the ground by sturdy ropes, it is governed by what  binds it to the earth.  Set free from that bondage, it rises and then is governed by a whole new set of atmospheric laws – wind drafts, drops in temperature, and the warm air being pumped into the balloon  itself.  So it is with us.  No longer bound by sin, we are set free to be controlled by the Spirit of God, and the laws of grace, love and forgiveness.

Romans 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.

Here we see it clearly, this new life is first of all spiritual.  No longer slaves to sin and tied to the world, we enter a life where God is the center and as that new God-life grows in us toward holiness, our physical and mental life changes as well.  Harsh reactions to people and events soften, modesty and kindness become the norm.  Love and grace vault to the forefront of our daily lives.

Romans 5:5

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom he has given us.

AMEN!  The way we respond to people and situations now is far different from the way we would have responded before we knew Christ.  The love God has poured into our hearts is entirely superior to anything we would have conjured up before knowing Jesus.  It is a deeply spiritual love that now governs our actions, our words and our hands.  That love has nothing to do with feelings.

Romans 4:20 and 21

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was  strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

This is where our faith is grounded.  God has the power to do as He promised.