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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, July 11, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Romans 11:33–12:2

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (NRSV)

After a chapter in which Paul boldly proclaims that salvation through Christ is given for all—Gentiles included—Paul returns in this eleventh chapter with a similar message to those in Israel who have rejected Jesus’ authority. Many of Jesus’ early followers, particularly those with ancestral ties to Judaism, struggled with the fact that Jesus’ ministry was so coolly met by the majority of the Jewish people, and they struggled to reconcile clear biblical references to God’s unbreakable covenant with Israel, as well. In this chapter, Paul seeks to make clear that God’s covenant relationship with Israel has not changed.

Drawing on the idea that each of us—even those of us who follow Christ as best we can—are disobedient to God, Paul asserts God’s sovereignty above all else. “For God has the power to graft them in again” (Romans 11:23), Paul argues, and “has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all” (11:32).

In our verses today that close Romans 11, we are reminded once more about how God is larger than the limits of our own imaginations and understanding. God has welcomed into the fold even those whom we would not or could not imagine, maintaining not just promises from long ago, but expanding promises in the future. In light of this openness of heart, Paul appeals to us to once again open ourselves up to discern the will of God, that we might live according to God’s expansive mercy and grace.

Holy God, inspired by the way you welcome all people, may I too live with a spirit of openness and grace that allows me to see everyone I meet as one of your children. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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