How to Read the Old Testament [Romans 15:4 Daily Devotional]
The Apostle Paul, the author of this letter, reminds us that the Jewish Scripture was written to teach us. We can learn how to endure from and can be encouraged by those Scriptures because these Scriptures seek to provide us with hope. Lucky for us, everything that the Jewish Scripture pointed to was fulfilled by Jesus’s death and resurrection. Because of that, we can now live in the hope that it promised.
How to Read the Old Testament
I don’t often write about the Jewish Scriptures, which you might know as the Old Testament. This is because like most of you, I’m a New Covenant Christian with no Jewish heritage. Because of this, I find most of my inspiration and guidance in the words and acts of Jesus and his disciples. Nevertheless, we as non-Jewish Christians can utilize the Old Testament because it’s filled with wisdom.
Find a curated list of Jewish Scripture that talks about Jesus. If I’m honest, most of the Old Testament is confusing to someone who doesn’t understand the cultural context. That means having a list of passages that are about Jesus is helpful in finding the encouragement Paul writes about.
Always read the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the “law and prophets.” The Jewish Scripture predicted that and knowing that will put a lot of what you read in perspective.
Jesus, thank you for fulfilling the law and dying for me. Help me to see you all throughout Scripture, both new and old. Give me the wisdom I need to discern your presence, even when things don’t make sense to me. It’s in your name I pray, amen.
Jesus is and is in the light. As we follow him and remain in community with each other, we can know with confidence that the Lord is purifying us from all sin. The first thing to notice here is that community (“fellowship”) is a result of being in the light. We can’t do life alone, so it’s important that we find a good, Christian community. Secondly, it’s in that community and through Jesus’s sacrifice that we’re being purified. Again, the knowledge of this is a result of being in the light, and the community around us will help us recognize that in new ways.
How to Walk in the Light
To walk in the light, you must be in community with other believers, and you must recognize that you’re being purified by Jesus through his sacrifice. Find a community by finding a local church you like and get involved there. Serve the community and watch as the Lord opens your eyes and your heart to the world around you. That community will also help you recognize all the things Jesus is doing in your life.
Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice. Help me to live my life in community and in the knowledge that your sacrifice is purifying me. I know purification is a process, so give me the patience I need as you work in me. It’s in your name I pray, amen.
Two Is Better Than One [Ecclesiastes 4:9 Daily Devotional]
Ecclesiastes is considered wisdom literature from the Jewish Scriptures and is mostly attributed to an ancient Israelite king named Solomon. What Solomon is saying here is that it’s important to be in a community. God did not intend for us to be alone, so we must find people to surround ourselves with. We’ve found this verse to be so true even to this day that it’s become its own idiom even in secular culture.
Two Is Better Than One
Don’t do life alone. No matter how socially anxious or introverted you are, people are important to your life. It’s important to find people who align with your beliefs. Not that everyone will (or should) agree with everything you believe in about a variety of things, at the very least you should share a common goal, which is to love people and serve your community. The best place to find people like that would be your local church. This is why you need to find a church you can call home. I encourage you to find a church you like; that’s the community you want to plug into, I know you won’t regret it.
Father, thank you for putting people into my life. Even though I won’t always get along with those people, I know that they’re beneficial to my life because they help me to grow and get closer to you. Help me to love and serve others well. It’s in Jesus’s name I pray, amen.
Do Everything in Love [1 Corinthians 16:13 Daily Devotional]
Paul, the author of this letter to the church in Corinth, is listing characteristics that the New Covenant Church should strive to embody. That list ultimately ends in doing “everything in love.”
Being on guard here means always being aware of who or what is influencing you. Be careful what you let near you because it can impact you more easily than you think. That means you need to stand firm in your faith. There’s a saying that says something like, “Don’t doubt in the dark what God told you in the light.” We’re going to walk through troubles, but you can trust and stand firm in Jesus. Those troubles require courage and strength to walk through, and we get that courage and strength from Jesus himself. And we can do all of that by doing what the next verse commands.
Do Everything in Love
To do this would mean that you don’t only just do the things that Paul mentions in verse 13, but that you would go out and serve the people around you. Serving others shows that you value them above your own time and comfort, which is really what Jesus calls us to do. Yes, “be on your guard” from spirits and people who seek to bring you down; yes, “stand firm” and “be courageous” and strong. But more than all of that, I pray that you would love others well and serve them as Jesus loved and served you.
Jesus, thank you for all you’ve done for me. Help me to fully embrace the message of this verse and love and serve people well. Give me the strength I need to stay on guard, stand firm, be courageous, and be strong. It’s in your name I pray, amen.
For The Wages of Sin is Death, So Choose The Gift of Life [Romans 6:23 Daily Devotional]
We often find ourselves choosing between the flesh (sin) and the Spirit (God). Paul, the author of this letter to the Romans, is addressing this tension. This verse talks about what each option offers, and it’s clear that living by the Spirit is the winner.
Notice how Paul uses distinct language to describe each option. “Wages” implies you have to work to get the reward while “gift” implies that you don’t have to do anything. If we sow sin, we reap death. However, if we follow Jesus, we reap eternal life.
Wages of Sin or Gift of Life
As the verse says, eternal life is a gift. There’s nothing you can do to earn that gift, but you do have to accept it. You accept the gift of eternal life first by denouncing the “wages of sin” and turn away from a life that leads to death. You can’t live both a life of sin and a life by the Spirit because they are at odds with one another. Because everyone messes up, falls short, and sins against the Lord at times, you can rest assured that Jesus has more than enough grace for you to cover those sins.
Turning away from a life of sin isn’t easy, but it is the first step in accepting God’s gift to you. After you do that, you accept the gift simply by confessing with your mouth and believing in your heart that Jesus is God and was raised from the dead.
Jesus, thank you for the gift of eternal life. Give me the wisdom and courage I need to turn away from the sin that wants to distract me from the life you have planned for me. Help me to live my life fully for you. It’s in your name I pray, amen.