Judges 5, Jeremiah 51, Romans 11

Read Judges 5, Jeremiah 51, and Romans 11.

This devotional is about Romans 11.

Romans 10 discussed the fact that many Israelites rejected the good news about Christ but, today in chapter 11, Paul was quick to address the fact that not all Jews were in unbelief (v. 1). In verses 2-10, he reminded us that the Jewish people lived in unbelief and rebellion against God for most of their history. So the idea that only some of God’s chosen people were actually chosen to have faith in him is not something new. It is how God has always worked, saving a “remnant” who trusted him from the heart (vv. 5-6).

But why did Israel reject Jesus when he came in human flesh? Wasn’t God’s promise that Messiah would rule over all Israel? Yes, that was the promise and it will still happen (v.26). The reason it didn’t happen with Jesus’ first coming, however, was God’s desire to save us Gentiles (vv. 11-25). God will still redeem Israel, just as he promised, but not “until the full number of Gentiles has come in” (v. 25b).

This is all an expression of God’s mercy (v. 32). He hardened Israel, for a time, so that he would save us. The power of this grace overwhelmed Paul in verses 33-36. It caused him to remark on the greatness of God’s wisdom (v. 33a) and how his wisdom is beyond human comprehension (vv. 34-36).

Is this how you respond to doctrines that are hard to understand? Does the doctrine of election or of the Trinity lift your spirit to worship the immense wisdom of God? Or, does it cause you to question and even deny those doctrines because they are hard for us to understand?

God is all-wise and all-knowing so are we really surprised that he does things we find hard to understand? If everything about God were simple and made perfect sense to limited, fallible people like us, then we should be concerned. So let the difficult doctrines of scripture, the ones you find hard to understand or to accept as true, cause you to look to God in awe. His judgments are “unsearchable… and his paths beyond tracing out!”

Deuteronomy 7, Isaiah 66, 1 Corinthians 6

Read Deuteronomy 7, Isaiah 66, and 1 Corinthians 6.

This devotional is about Deuteronomy 7.

God’s commands in this chapter were clear. Israel was to defeat the nations that currently lived in the promised land of Canaan (vv. 1-2). “Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy,” the Lord said at the end of verse 2.

This is a difficult text to read. God commands the utter destruction of entire nations, the massive slaughter of human lives. Other passages of scripture tell us that God commanded this as an act of judgment for the sins of these Canaanites. Some of those sins are alluded to here when God said, in verse 5b, “Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire.” And, later in verse 10, he said, “…those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.” Although the Canaanites were supposed to lose their lives, it was not an innocent loss of life. Like all unbelievers, and all of us, they chose to hate God and worship other things. God’s command to Israel to kill these people, then, was an act of justice.

Whenever God announces his judgment on some people, as he did here, or promises his favor on others, it may seem and feel like favoritism. The hearts of those whom God has blessed may swell with pride and even feel entitled to the blessing God has promised.

But that is a sinful response, as sinful as the sin of idolatry. That’s why God was quick to say, “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you…” (vv. 7-8). In other words, God did not choose Israel because of any value or merit Israel had. He chose them because he chose to love them (v. 8). It was an act of pure grace, something Israel didn’t deserve.

So there was no place and no reason for Israel to feel proud about what God was doing for them. God chose to love and favor Israel because he is a loving and gracious God, not because Israel deserved his love.

The same is true for us. You and I were not saved from our sins because God knew we’d be great Christians. We certainly weren’t saved because we were less sinful than others.

No, we were saved by God’s choice to love us. That’s it.

Do you believe that? Do you believe that you did not–and do not–deserve God’s love and mercy but that God was merciful to you because he simply decided to love you?

If you believe that, then there is no reason to look down on sinners who are outside of God’s love and under his judgment. You and I deserve to be outside of God’s love and under his judgment, too. We deserve to be judged by God as or more harshly than he judged the nations of Canaan.

Are you proud of being a Christian because you think it says something about you? Are you thankful for what you have in Christ or do you feel entitled to it? Search your heart and remember that none of us deserved God’s mercy in salvation but that he saved us because that’s who he is–a loving and merciful God. Then give thanks to the Lord for the salvation you have in Christ.

Genesis 14, Nehemiah 3, Psalms 4-5

Today read Genesis 14, Nehemiah 3, and Psalms 4-5. This devotional is about Psalm 5.

In Psalm 5, David cried out to the Lord for help and waited “expectantly” for the Lord to answer (vv. 1-3). His reason for expecting the Lord to answer his prayer was God’s righteousness (vv. 4-6). He is displeased with wickedness (v. 4a), does not welcome evil people (v. 4b), won’t let the arrogant stand (v. 5a), hates all who do wrong (v. 5b), destroys liars (v. 6a), and detests the bloodthirsty and deceitful (v. 6b). In just a few verses there David cast a very wide net, ruling out answers to prayer for all kinds of sinners.

Of course, David was a sinner himself. So how could he be so confident that God would answer his prayers while refusing everyone else? The answer is in verse 6: “But I, by your great love, can come into your house.” Very simply, God had graciously chosen him. Because God chose to love David, David could come before the Lord in prayer and in worship.

God’s electing love was not restricted to David. It is the sole reason you want to know God. Whenever you pray, or gather for worship, or observe the Lord’s supper, remember this: It is not your perfect performance of righteousness that causes God to hear your prayers, welcome your worship, or receive you at His table. In reality, you and I are as guilty before the Lord as any of the sinners David mentioned in verses 4-6. But, because of God’s great love, we are forgiven in Christ, welcomed in Him, and loved. Let this grace of God encourage you today as you pray and as you seek to live for Him.

Ephesians 1:1-10

Ephesians 1:1-10

Despite the appearance that the world is out of control, God has a plan for everything and he is faithfully working to make his plan a reality. Find out more about it in this message from Ephesians 1:1-10.

This is a message from chapter 1 of the New Testament book of Ephesians by Pastor Brian Jones.

This message was delivered on Sunday, November 1, 2009 at Calvary Bible Church in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

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