Sunday 5th May

Read Psalm 55

If you don’t have a bible at home you can find the readings on a website such as or an app such as YouVersion

“Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (v6).  Have you ever felt like that?  Then this is a Psalm for you.  David is finding himself hard pressed because he has enemies who are talking bad things about him and threatening him such that fear and trembling have beset him and that’s why he wishes to escape from his present position. 

He starts the Psalm with a prayer asking God to, “not ignore my plea, hear me and answer me”, and  he tells the Lord how he is feeling and why.  That’s a good way to go about prayer, tell God how you feel and work out why.  He knows why, but it will help you to understand as well. 

He asks God to confuse the wicked and confound their words which is a good prayer about those who do evil.   As well as enemies, David has found that someone who used to be close to him had turned against him.  Jesus knew about this too. 

In all his anguish about the wickedness he sees around him on the streets of Jerusalem he does know that God will see to the proper result of everything and tells his listeners to “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” (v22).  You won’t get rid of them, but you will find that God stands with you and helps you through.  As the banner on many churches has, “Try Praying”. 


Monday Romans 9:30-33 

How did the Gentiles get the righteousness that the Jews failed to get?  That is the question Paul deals with next and says simply that it was because the Gentiles pursued it by faith whereas the Jews tried to gain it through the law.  Being declared righteous before God does not come about by certain works we perform, our salvation is by the grace of God alone. 

Imagine being invited to a grand banquet at Buckingham Palace with a printed invitation signed by the King.  When you reach the door, you ask the servant in waiting, “Now, where do I pay?”.  What an insult!  It would be as though his goodwill and grace was something you could obtain through money.  This is the problem with justification by works of the law, it is not only insulting, it ignores the cost to God of the free offer of salvation to us in Christ.  When you are given a complimentary ticket to anything, receive it, be thankful, and don’t try to boast of who you are or what you did to get it. 

The chapter closes with a quotation from Isaiah in the Old Testament (Ch 28) about God laying a stone down – elsewhere he speaks of Jesus as being the chief cornerstone of the new temple – but it becomes a stone of stumbling to the contemporary Jews because they did not put their trust on Jesus.  Those who turn away from Jesus, trip up and fall; this was true of the Jews of Paul’s time but also of people in any time. 

Tuesday Romans 10:1-13 

Paul again declares his deepest wish for his ancient people the Jews, that they may be saved and says that their problem is that they don’t want to be saved through faith.  They resist the idea that anyone can be saved through faith in Christ, they want to establish their own righteousness through the law. 

Always keen to take them back to their scriptures, he quotes Moses from Deuteronomy 30, “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach.” In the next verse, he says, “It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’” (Deut. 30:12 NLT) and then, “It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’  No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it” (Deut. 30:13-14 NLT).  Paul applies this directly to Jesus and says it is to him that your mouth and heart must cleave to.  The ‘it’ that the Jews had applied to the law Paul refers to Christ as the culmination of the law such that he is the embodiment of the law, the Word of God.  You can’t abstract the righteousness of God and make it codified and objectified. 

Our children would always like to extract from us a ‘law’ that they would make us obey and immediately criticise us if we seem to say something different from what we had said before, but they need to realise that it is to us, their living parents, and not some ‘law’ that they are to offer obedience.  The Jewish leaders wanted the Sabbath to rule all and so when Jesus healed on the Sabbath they wanted to indict him.  Jesus turned and challenged them, if your sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath do you not help it out? (Matt 12:11).  Although the law was given to the Jews it was designed to be a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ. (Gal 3:24-27), to understand the thoughts of God. They had failed in not receiving the living Word, namely Christ, nevertheless says Paul, all who believe in him, Jew or Gentile will be saved. 

Wednesday Romans 10:14-11:10 

Paul speaks of the necessity of people being sent to proclaim the message because how anyone can believe unless they are told.  It has been the rallying call of missionaries for centuries where the apostle tells of how faith comes – “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (v17).  In order to have faith people need to be told who they are to have faith in, although unfortunately today the word faith is often used in a blank canvas kind of way without realising that it needs a target. 

Paul then asks whether the Israelites had heard the voice of God and whether the Old Testament had given the clue that Gentiles were going to be included in God’s family?  His answer is in the positive, but he sadly bemoans the fact that his people were persistently obstinate to God who, like a caring father, often stretched out to them (v21). 

  In chapter 11 Paul says that despite their resistance God did not reject them and gives the example from the story of Elijah who thought he was the last true believer when he ran away from King Ahab and his idolatrous wife, Jezebel (1 Kings 19:10).  God said, “I have seven thousand who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18) [the whole story taken from 1 Kings 18 & 19].  God kept a remnant, chosen by grace, says the apostle and if they were ‘chosen by grace’ then it shows that they were not saved on the basis of works -the thing he has been trying to say all along. 

God kept or reserved for himself some, he calls them the elect, but the others were hardened and God gave them a spirit of stupor so that they could not see.  It is important to see that his differentiation is not an equivalence between the elect and those not chosen.  Both were in the same place as sinners separated from God; the elect were chosen by God entirely by God’s grace but the others were left to go their own way and were confirmed in it by God who gave them what they desired.   

Thursday Romans 11:11-12 

From verse 11 Paul asks the question about his people, “Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?”, in other words is that the end of them, goodbye Jews?  No not at all, he says, and says that their rejection of Christ has meant that the message of the gospel has gone out into the world. 

What God has been doing in the Old Testament since the call of Abraham is shaping a ‘landing place’ just like people in a forested country cut down trees and level the land to create a makeshift runway for a plane to land.  God was going to send his Son into the world, but it couldn’t be done right away, preparations had to be made.  The shaping of Israel by his Word, through Moses and the prophets, was that preparatory work.  The Jews were taught that they had to do this work, this ‘law work’, chopping down the trees flattening the land, preparing the nation, doing it all according to the instructions they were given but they got fixated on the law not quite getting that its function was to receive the Son of God, the Word made flesh.  It was as though they didn’t want the plane to land and mess up their nice landing strip. 

Let’s use another illustration.  Israel was chosen and shaped as a womb into which the Son of God was to come.  The choosing of the Virgin Mary was a little picture of what Israel was, she was the place where Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit but he wasn’t kept there but pushed out.  It was in the rejection of Jesus by the Jews that he was pushed out into the world through apostles like Paul.  This is what Paul meant saying that the transgression of the Jews gave riches for the Gentiles (v12).  The ejection by the Jews was bringing blessing for the world. 

However this rejection was not to be a lifelong breakdown in the relationship – they didn’t “stumble so as to fall beyond recovery” – and he goes on to give promissory hints about the future when he  says if the rejection by the Jews meant riches for the Gentiles, think would it would be like if they were to be received back again (v12). 

Friday Romans 11:13-32 

Paul turns to the Gentiles in v13 and says that through his preaching to them he hopes that the Jews, being aroused by jealousy, will turn back to hear and respond to the gospel themselves.  He says that Jews and Gentiles are not separate but belong together as the branches and the root of a plant belong together and he gives an illustration of branches being broken off a plant in order for others to be grafted in (i.e. the Jews removed so that the Gentiles could be grafted in) then says that surely the original branches will be able to be grafted back at some time.  He reminds the Gentiles that they have been brought in through faith and so they shouldn’t be arrogant or boastful of their position or the danger will be that they end up like the Jews who had been broken off. 

He tells his Gentile hearers to consider the kindness and sternness of God, kindness to them provided they continue in his kindness and to remember that the Jews are able to be grafted in again if they do not persist in their unbelief. 

He then wants to go a little deeper into the way things have worked out by telling them ‘a mystery’ (v25).  He says that the position of the Jews, the ancient Children of Israel have experienced a hardening “until the full number of the Gentiles has come in”(v25).  He quotes Isaiah 59 which speaks of the rebellion of his ancient people but that he will call others and so “all Israel” will be saved (v26).  He speaks of Israel in terms of both ancient Israel and modern Gentile believers saying that all have been disobedient, but all will be saved through faith in Christ. 

Saturday Romans 11:33-36 

The closing verses of the chapter form a marvellous doxology to all that the apostle has been saying and are well worth memorising. 

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  
How unsearchable his judgments, 
and his paths beyond tracing out!  
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? 
Or who has been his counselor?”  
35 “Who has ever given to God, 
that God should repay them?”  
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.  
To him be the glory forever! Amen. (v33-36)