Daily Devotionals 2021 - Paul's Epistles

We hope you join us in this daily devotional for 2021.

July 28 - Romans Chapter 6

In this text Paul continues to explain what it means to be right with God. Sin has no control over us any more. We can choose to do it, but God doesn't see us as sinners. He sees us as His innocent children because of the death of Jesus. So Paul tells us - do not sin; the Father doesn't see you as a sinner, so just imitate Him as a child who loves His Father and imitates Him. Be confident that the Holy Spirit will reveal new things to you about how to be right with God and avoid sin.

As always, in learning to discern the voice of the Spirit, use these questions as a guide:

  1. Is there anything that stands out to you in this passage?
  2. Did you notice anything that you hadn’t noticed before?
  3. Does any text bring thoughts that relate to something you are currently dealing with?

So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it? Or don’t you know that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we were buried together with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life. If we were united together in a death like his, we will also be united together in a resurrection like his. This is what we know: the person that we used to be was crucified with him in order to get rid of the corpse that had been controlled by sin. That way we wouldn’t be slaves to sin anymore,because a person who has died has been freed from sin’s power. But if we died with Christ, we have faith that we will also live with him. We know that Christ has been raised from the dead and he will never die again. Death no longer has power over him. He died to sin once and for all with his death, but he lives for God with his life. In the same way, you also should consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

So then, don’t let sin rule your body, so that you do what it wants. Don’t offer parts of your body to sin, to be used as weapons to do wrong. Instead, present yourselves to God as people who have been brought back to life from the dead, and offer all the parts of your body to God to be used as weapons to do right.Sin will have no power over you, because you aren’t under Law but under grace.

So what? Should we sin because we aren’t under Law but under grace? Absolutely not! Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, that you are slaves of the one whom you obey? That’s true whether you serve as slaves of sin, which leads to death, or as slaves of the kind of obedience that leads to righteousness. But thank God that although you used to be slaves of sin, you gave wholehearted obedience to the teaching that was handed down to you, which provides a pattern. Now that you have been set free from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness. (I’m speaking with ordinary metaphors because of your limitations.) Once, you offered the parts of your body to be used as slaves to impurity and to lawless behavior that leads to still more lawless behavior. Now, you should present the parts of your body as slaves to righteousness, which makes your lives holy. When you were slaves of sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What consequences did you get from doing things that you are now ashamed of? The outcome of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and become slaves to God, you have the consequence of a holy life, and the outcome is eternal life. The wages that sin pays are death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


July 27 - Romans Chapter 5

Understanding the Lord comes in the heart, not in the head - not in accumulating knowledge of facts and in logical thinking. Notice the end of the 1st paragraph of this chapter: the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Knowing God is being like Him, allowing Him to transform us - our internal character - into His own - the character of love. That's one of the things the Holy Spirit in us does. Add this to your prayer and expect to see how the Lord transforms you over time.

As always, in learning to discern the voice of the Spirit, use these questions as a guide:

  1. Is there anything that stands out to you in this passage?
  2. Did you notice anything that you hadn’t noticed before?
  3. Does any text bring thoughts that relate to something you are currently dealing with?

Therefore, since we have been made righteous through his faithfulness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand through him, and we boast in the hope of God’s glory. But not only that! We even take pride in our problems, because we know that trouble produces endurance,endurance produces character, and character produces hope. This hope doesn’t put us to shame, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people. It isn’t often that someone will die for a righteous person, though maybe someone might dare to die for a good person. But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. So, now that we have been made righteous by his blood, we can be even more certain that we will be saved from God’s wrath through him. If we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son while we were still enemies, now that we have been reconciled, how much more certain is it that we will be saved by his life? And not only that: we even take pride in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, the one through whom we now have a restored relationship with God.

Just as through one human being sin came into the world, and death came through sin, so death has come to everyone, since everyone has sinned. Although sin was in the world, since there was no Law, it wasn’t taken into account until the Law came. But death ruled from Adam until Moses, even over those who didn’t sin in the same way Adam did—Adam was a type of the one who was coming.

But the free gift of Christ isn’t like Adam’s failure. If many people died through what one person did wrong, God’s grace is multiplied even more for many people with the gift—of the one person Jesus Christ—that comes through grace. The gift isn’t like the consequences of one person’s sin. The judgment that came from one person’s sin led to punishment, but the free gift that came out of many failures led to the verdict of acquittal. If death ruled because of one person’s failure, those who receive the multiplied grace and the gift of righteousness will even more certainly rule in life through the one person Jesus Christ.

So now the righteous requirements necessary for life are met for everyone through the righteous act of one person, just as judgment fell on everyone through the failure of one person.Many people were made righteous through the obedience of one person, just as many people were made sinners through the disobedience of one person. The Law stepped in to amplify the failure, but where sin increased, grace multiplied even more. The result is that grace will rule through God’s righteousness, leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, just as sin ruled in death.


July 26 - Romans Chapter 4

In my walk as a Christian believer, I think understanding righteousness (which is an old-fashioned King James English way of saying being right and innocent) is one of the most important things a believer can know. When we accept the sacrifice of Jesus, we are credited as being right - or innocent before God of any sin. We can still sin, but we are not sinners. Sinners are separated from God. Right people are in union with God and His spirit. Jesus' blood cleanses us from all sin. If we sin without knowing, the blood cleanses us. If we sin knowingly, we must repent, and Jesus' blood cleanses us again. Yet we are still God's children, righteous, right with Him, and not sinners, not people who will stand judgement before Him.

As always, in learning to discern the voice of the Spirit, use these questions as a guide:

  1. Is there anything that stands out to you in this passage?
  2. Did you notice anything that you hadn’t noticed before?
  3. Does any text bring thoughts that relate to something you are currently dealing with?

So what are we going to say? Are we going to find that Abraham is our ancestor on the basis of genealogy?Because if Abraham was made righteous because of his actions, he would have had a reason to brag, but not in front of God. What does the scripture say? Abraham had faith in God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Workers’ salaries aren’t credited to them on the basis of an employer’s grace but rather on the basis of what they deserve. But faith is credited as righteousness to those who don’t work, because they have faith in God who makes the ungodly righteous. In the same way, David also pronounces a blessing on the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from actions:

Happy are those whose actions outside the Law are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Happy are those whose sin isn’t counted against them by the Lord.

Is this state of happiness only for the circumcised or is it also for those who aren’t circumcised? We say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” So how was it credited? When he was circumcised, or when he wasn’t circumcised? In fact, it was credited while he still wasn’t circumcised, not after he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that comes from the faith he had while he still wasn’t circumcised. It happened this way so that Abraham could be the ancestor of all those people who aren’t circumcised, who have faith in God, and so are counted as righteous. He could also be the ancestor of those circumcised people, who aren’t only circumcised but who also walk in the path of faith, like our ancestor Abraham did while he wasn’t circumcised.

The promise to Abraham and to his descendants, that he would inherit the world, didn’t come through the Law but through the righteousness that comes from faith. If they inherit because of the Law, then faith has no effect and the promise has been canceled. The Law brings about wrath. But when there isn’t any law, there isn’t any violation of the law.That’s why the inheritance comes through faith, so that it will be on the basis of God’s grace. In that way, the promise is secure for all of Abraham’s descendants, not just for those who are related by Law but also for those who are related by the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us. As it is written: I have appointed you to be the father of many nations. So Abraham is our father in the eyes of God in whom he had faith, the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that don’t exist into existence. When it was beyond hope, he had faith in the hope that he would become the father of many nations, in keeping with the promise God spoke to him: That’s how many descendants you will have.Without losing faith, Abraham, who was nearly 100 years old, took into account his own body, which was as good as dead, and Sarah’s womb, which was dead. He didn’t hesitate with a lack of faith in God’s promise, but he grew strong in faith and gave glory to God. He was fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised. Therefore, it was credited to him as righteousness.

But the scripture that says it was credited to him wasn’t written only for Abraham’s sake. It was written also for our sake, because it is going to be credited to us too. It will be credited to those of us who have faith in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over because of our mistakes, and he was raised to meet the requirements of righteousness for us.


July 25

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I Timothy 4:7-8

 

As the Olympic games have just begun, one of the comments that I have heard from several athletes is: “I have been training my whole life for the Olympics.” 

 

In I Timothy 4:7-8, when the apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to “Exercise” himself towards godliness he used the root of the English word “Gymnasium.” This word was familiar to Timothybecause every important city in the Roman world had at least one gymnasium. These were centers of physical training as well as centers for discussions, learning, and the arts.

Paul used this reference to help Timothy think about how our bodies develop through diet and exercise. To grow properly, our minds, muscles, and bones need to be used properly and often.

The same principles are true in our spiritual lives. We constantly need to grow and develop spiritually. As Christians, we are born again when we accept Jesus as Savior. So as new believers, we are like babies and need to grow and keep growing.

As Christians, we must remember that it is essential that we mature and become disciplined about our faith. In the same way that athletes exercise to get in shape, we must exercise ourselves spiritually. This means studying the Bible, applying Biblical principles, praying, and sharing the Gospel.

Thought For Today:  No matter how long you have been a Christian, make it a priority to grow in your faith. Don’t be content with where you are spiritually but seek to become more like Christ and exercise yourself toward godliness.

Today’ Prayer Focus: Pray that the Olympic games will be a reminder to exercise spiritually and that you will grow in godliness Deo Volente. 

—Rev. Ted Esaki


July 24

Daily Devotion For July 24, 2021

 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

 

Yesterday was the opening of the XXXII Olympics in Tokyo Japan. Although it is 2021, the Olympics retains the name Tokyo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes.  

 

It is estimated that there will be 11,238 athletes from 205 nations. Several months ago, I received letters from a number of different Christian ministries asking me to donate to their mission. Their hope, desire and prayer is to send missionaries to Japan who will be able to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people of Japan as well as those who are traveling to Japan for the games.

 

From August of 1983 to July of 1986 I had the opportunity to serve with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in Japan. Most of that time was spent on the northern most island of Hokkaido in the city of Sapporo.  The Christian population of Japan is estimated to be less that 1%. It is a nation that is in desperate need of hearing the Gospel.

 

During these Olympic Games, pray for the nation of Japan that through the efforts of the local churches, missionaries and mission organizations that a clear presentation of the gospel will be made and that many will come to a saving knowledge of Christ. 

 

Thought For Today:  What does it mean that God so loved the world? What were the circumstances that led you to believe in Jesus?   

 

Today’s Prayer Focus: Pray that the hearts of the Japanese and people from around the world will have the opportunity to hear the Good News of the Gospel and respond to Christ. Deo Volente. 

—Rev. Ted Esaki


July 21 - Romans 3

In this chapter begins the great explanation of righteousness that Martin Luther brought back to Christianity after being forgotten for many years. It is still a contentious subject - that we are right with God. Please read these next chapters and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you what it means for you personally to be right with God.

As always, in learning to discern the voice of the Spirit, use these questions as a guide:

  1. Is there anything that stands out to you in this passage?
  2. Did you notice anything that you hadn’t noticed before?
  3. Does any text bring thoughts that relate to something you are currently dealing with?

So what’s the advantage of being a Jew? Or what’s the benefit of circumcision? Plenty in every way. First of all, the Jews were trusted with God’s revelations. What does it matter, then, if some weren’t faithful? Their lack of faith won’t cancel God’s faithfulness, will it? Absolutely not! God must be true, even if every human being is a liar, as it is written:


So that it can show that you are right in your words;

    and you will triumph when you are judged.

But if our lack of righteousness confirms God’s justice, what will we say? That God, who brings wrath upon us, isn’t just (I’m speaking rhetorically)? Absolutely not! If God weren’t just, how could he judge the world? But if God’s truth is demonstrated by my lie and it increases his glory, why am I still judged as a sinner? Why not say, “Let’s do evil things so that good things will come out of it”? (Some people who slander us accuse us of saying that, but these people deserve criticism.)

So what are we saying? Are we better off? Not at all. We have already stated the charge: both Jews and Greeks are all under the power of sin. As it is written,


There is no righteous person, not even one.

There is no one who understands.

    There is no one who looks for God.

They all turned away.

    They have become worthless together.

There is no one who shows kindness.

    There is not even one.

Their throat is a grave that has been opened.

    They are deceitful with their tongues,

        and the poison of vipers is under their lips.

    Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.

Their feet are quick to shed blood;

        destruction and misery are in their ways;

        and they don’t know the way of peace.

There is no fear of God in their view of the world.

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, in order to shut every mouth and make it so the whole world has to answer to God. It follows that no human being will be treated as righteous in his presence by doing what the Law says, because the knowledge of sin comes through the Law.

But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets.God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before,during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous.

What happens to our bragging? It’s thrown out. With which law? With what we have accomplished under the Law? No, not at all, but through the law of faith. We consider that a person is treated as righteous by faith, apart from what is accomplished under the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Isn’t God the God of Gentiles also? Yes, God is also the God of Gentiles. Since God is one, then the one who makes the circumcised righteous by faith will also make the one who isn’t circumcised righteous through faith. Do we then cancel the Law through this faith? Absolutely not! Instead, we confirm the Law.

July 20 - Romans 2

I find some difficult passages in the chapter below. When that happens, I've learned not to guess or assume I know the answers, and not try to come up with the answer. I was taught and I believe that's the best approach when we don't understand something in the Bible, is to simply say to the Father - "Lord, I don't understand this, please teach me how that applies to me." And then let it rest. The Holy Spirit knows His job how to teach you. Sometimes that can take some time, because we simply don't know enough to understand many things in the scriptures. But don't be discouraged, He will teach you in due time.

As always, in learning to discern the voice of the Spirit, use these questions as a guide:

  1. Is there anything that stands out to you in this passage?
  2. Did you notice anything that you hadn’t noticed before?
  3. Does any text bring thoughts that relate to something you are currently dealing with?

So every single one of you who judge others is without any excuse. You condemn yourself when you judge another person because the one who is judging is doing the same things. We know that God’s judgment agrees with the truth, and his judgment is against those who do these kinds of things.If you judge those who do these kinds of things while you do the same things yourself, think about this: Do you believe that you will escape God’s judgment?Or do you have contempt for the riches of God’s generosity, tolerance, and patience? Don’t you realize that God’s kindness is supposed to lead you to change your heart and life? You are storing up wrath for yourself because of your stubbornness and your heart that refuses to change. God’s just judgment will be revealed on the day of wrath.God will repay everyone based on their works. On the one hand, he will give eternal life to those who look for glory, honor, and immortality based on their patient good work. But on the other hand, there will be wrath and anger for those who obey wickedness instead of the truth because they are acting out of selfishness and disobedience. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. God does not have favorites. Those who have sinned outside the Law will also die outside the Law, and those who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law. It isn’t the ones who hear the Law who are righteous in God’s eyes. It is the ones who do what the Law says who will be treated as righteous. Gentiles don’t have the Law. But when they instinctively do what the Law requires they are a Law in themselves, though they don’t have the Law. They show the proof of the Law written on their hearts, and their consciences affirm it. Their conflicting thoughts will accuse them, or even make a defense for them,on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the hidden truth about human beings through Christ Jesus.


    But,

if you call yourself a Jew;

if you rely on the Law;

if you brag about your relationship to God;

if you know the will of God;

if you are taught by the Law so that you can figure out the things that really matter;

if you have persuaded yourself that you are:

        a guide for the blind;

        a light to those who are in darkness;

        an educator of the foolish;

        a teacher of infants (since you have the full content of knowledge and truth in the Law);

then why don’t you who are teaching others teach yourself?

If you preach, “No stealing,” do you steal?

If you say, “No adultery,” do you commit adultery?

If you hate idols, do you rob temples?

If you brag about the Law, do you shame God by breaking the Law? As it is written: The name of God is discredited by the Gentiles because of you.

Circumcision is an advantage if you do what the Law says. But if you are a person who breaks the Law, your status of being circumcised has changed into not being circumcised.So if the person who isn’t circumcised keeps the Law, won’t his status of not being circumcised be counted as if he were circumcised? The one who isn’t physically circumcised but keeps the Law will judge you. You became a lawbreaker after you had the written Law and circumcision. It isn’t the Jew who maintains outward appearances who will receive praise from God, and it isn’t people who are outwardly circumcised on their bodies. Instead, it is the person who is a Jew inside, who is circumcised in spirit, not literally. That person’s praise doesn’t come from people but from God.


July 19 - Romans 1

Today we begin the epistles of Paul to the church. Romans is a very important one, where a lot of the protestant theology of salvation comes from. As we read, we will focus on hearing from the Holy Spirit, which is our theme this year. Even when there's nothing specific in the text about the Holy Spirit, I find interesting in this chapter how God makes plain to us His reality and His existence. He is God who reaches out to people. But people can reject Him and His truth. It is important to be able to be honest with ourselves - are we willing to hear from God whatever He tells us, or do we just want to hear what we like.

As always, in learning to discern the voice of the Spirit, use these questions as a guide:

  1. Is there anything that stands out to you in this passage?
  2. Did you notice anything that you hadn’t noticed before?
  3. Does any text bring thoughts that relate to something you are currently dealing with?


From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for God’s good news. God promised this good news about his Son ahead of time through his prophets in the holy scriptures. His Son was descended from David. He was publicly identified as God’s Son with power through his resurrection from the dead, which was based on the Spirit of holiness. This Son is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received God’s grace and our appointment to be apostles. This was to bring all Gentiles to faithful obedience for his name’s sake. You who are called by Jesus Christ are also included among these Gentiles.

To those in Rome who are dearly loved by God and called to be God’s people.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because the news about your faithfulness is being spread throughout the whole world. I serve God in my spirit by preaching the good news about God’s Son, and God is my witness that I continually mention you in all my prayers. I’m always asking that somehow, by God’s will, I might succeed in visiting you at last. I really want to see you to pass along some spiritual gift to you so that you can be strengthened.What I mean is that we can mutually encourage each other while I am with you. We can be encouraged by the faithfulness we find in each other, both your faithfulness and mine.

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I planned to visit you many times, although I have been prevented from coming until now. I want to harvest some fruit among you, just as I have done among the other Gentiles. I have a responsibility both to Greeks and to those who don’t speak Greek, both to the wise and to the foolish.

That’s why I’m ready to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. I’m not ashamed of the gospel: it is God’s own power for salvation to all who have faith in God, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. God’s righteousness is being revealed in the gospel, from faithfulness for faith, as it is written, The righteous person will live by faith.

God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodly behavior and the injustice of human beings who silence the truth with injustice. This is because what is known about God should be plain to them because God made it plain to them. Ever since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—God’s eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through the things God has made. So humans are without excuse. Although they knew God, they didn’t honor God as God or thank him. Instead, their reasoning became pointless, and their foolish hearts were darkened.While they were claiming to be wise, they made fools of themselves. They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images that look like mortal humans: birds, animals, and reptiles. So God abandoned them to their hearts’ desires, which led to the moral corruption of degrading their own bodies with each other. They traded God’s truth for a lie, and they worshipped and served the creation instead of the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

That’s why God abandoned them to degrading lust. Their females traded natural sexual relations for unnatural sexual relations. Also, in the same way, the males traded natural sexual relations with females, and burned with lust for each other. Males performed shameful actions with males, and they were paid back with the penalty they deserved for their mistake in their own bodies. Since they didn’t think it was worthwhile to acknowledge God, God abandoned them to a defective mind to do inappropriate things. So they were filled with all injustice, wicked behavior, greed, and evil behavior. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, deception, and malice. They are gossips, they slander people, and they hate God. They are rude and proud, and they brag. They invent ways to be evil, and they are disobedient to their parents.They are without understanding, disloyal, without affection, and without mercy. Though they know God’s decision that those who persist in such practices deserve death, they not only keep doing these things but also approve others who practice them.

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