WRBC Daily Devotionals - Lent 2021

These devotionals are a labor of love by many White Rock Baptist Church members. We thank each person who contributed their time and their thoughtful words to this project. Although each submission was edited for clarity, the thoughts and ideas presented belong to each individual author.


May God bless you this Lenten season as you spend time with Him

and, through these writings, with each other!


Pastor Jennifer Friesen


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Click here for Table of Contents (includes list of daily scripture readings)


Click here for the entire WRBC 2021 Lent Devotional Booklet (pdf - statement size)


As you read the devotionals below, you can click on the scripture reading to read it on Bible Gateway.


Day 1: An Incredible Perspective

Wednesday, February 17 by Glenn Rabuka

Scripture Reading: Romans 1:1-7 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “And who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:4

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.  Lent is traditionally a 40-day fast — a reference to the time Jesus spent being tempted in the desert — that seeks to prepare the heart of the believer for the solemn remembrance of Jesus’ death. It concludes and is followed by a joyous Easter Sunday celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

 

For me, the Lenten season is a time to focus on the reality of where we are heading and understand the truth of where we were going. This is not only a time to think about Christ’s death, but each of our own deaths. All of our hope was ashes until Jesus. All of our future was hell until the empty tomb. But because of Christ’s sacrifice, all of our sins have been removed as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12).

 

When we participate in focusing our hearts on the cross, we can step into the season of Easter in its entirety. It takes discipline to slow down and center our thoughts on the weight of death. It is not a fun topic, but it is important. Ash Wednesday is the springboard to the time of fasting in Lent.

 

Prayer: Abba, Father, thank you for sending your son as a sacrifice for our sins. That incredible act of love and mercy provides each one of us with the blessed hope of eternity with you.

Day 2: The Power of Faith

Thursday, February 18 by Bill King

Scripture Reading: Romans 1:8-17 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17(KJV)

 

God used this scripture to convict and convert Martin Luther. His new understanding of faith led him to nail his “95 Theses” to a local Catholic Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, and to relinquish his priesthood.

 

As we reflect on the meaning of faith, I am reminded that we live in a world of “tangibles,” focused on what we can see, touch, taste and “grab a hold of” in our normal daily practices. But “faith” is an intangible that we practice often and even take for granted. We have faith whenever we embark on a journey whether by car, elevator, plane or whatever means we use and rarely, if ever, give a thought to not reaching the end of our journey.

 

As challenging as it is, let us always be encouraged that practicing our faith pleases the Lord greatly. “And Jesus said unto them…for verily I say unto you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you”(Matthew 17:20). As the Apostle Paul also reminds us “…let your faith be spoken of throughout the whole world (Romans 1: 8).

 

As I write this, I even ask myself, “How is my faith?” As you read this, I would encourage you to reflect on your own faith and by putting it to the test, watch your faith grow!  

 

Prayer: Lord, may we always grow in faith, remembering that “without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seeks Him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)

Day 3: There are None so Blind as Those Who Refuse to See

Friday, February 19 by Brian Louw

Scripture Reading: Romans 1:18-32 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 (NIV)

 

In this passage, Paul makes it clear that humanity has no excuse before God’s judgement and that God remains holy and just in his judgement over sinful humans. To be sure, none of us likes to be called sinful or have our wrongdoings pointed out, yet God will have them exposed and pointed out. However, God allows us to catch glimpses of Himself in the created order around us so that we might turn to Him while there is still time (Isa 55:6). Yet too many people refuse to acknowledge and see Him. Psalm 14:1 reminds us that only fools declare there is no God.

 

In our passage from Romans, Paul reminds his readers that the primary sin, from which all the others originate, is found in verse 21; namely that they knew God but didn’t glorify Him and give thanks to Him. Instead of giving glory and thanks, they rejected God and chose to pursue their own wants and desires. In so doing they stand doubly condemned before a holy God.

 

So how then should we respond? Well of course, we should repent of our sin and acknowledge God, and I believe the way we do this is highlighted in the verse we’ve just considered; we begin by worshipping God and giving thanks for all He has done.

 

Prayer: O God, thank you for your love and for your grace. Thank you that you freely and willingly forgive those who turn to you in confession and repentance. Help us to see that all too often the sins we commit originate out of our desire to pursue our own wants instead of glorifying you. Let us be reminded that joy and life come to us when we worship you and when we give you thanks. May you be glorified in all you do, Amen.

Day 4: On Passing Judgment

Saturday, February 20 by Delores Fossum

Scripture Reading: Romans 2:1-11 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Romans 2:3

 

How many times in a lifetime do we fail to heed the words of this verse? Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly? Isn’t this true? We constantly pass judgment on someone else. Some days we do it in anger; sometimes because it is something someone else has told us, and often we aren’t even aware we are doing it until it’s too late.

 

So what can we do about this? The closer we become to God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit, the more we become aware of His presence. When we are about to judge another, we should listen to Him. You may need to hold back that thought, hold your tongue, and instead look at yourself first and then hopefully, withhold your judgment of another. Perhaps we could even suggest a positive way to react to the problem. It doesn’t work every time, but we need to keep trying!

 

Sometimes it is our own weaknesses that tend to make us want to judge another – for instance, jealousy, insecurity of self, etc. We must try and examine ourselves before judging another and turn it around. For example, praise the Lord for all the good things that person has done with you, for you, or for another. If it is someone you don’t know, ask the Lord “Why do I feel I should pass judgment on him, her, or them?” After all, hasn’t God told us to “love one another?” 

 

Prayer: Father God, thank you for your Word. For in it we can find the truths we seek and the guidance we require in our daily lives. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Day 5: God's Impartial Judgment

Monday, February 22 by Johanna Jutila

Scripture Reading: Romans 2:12-16 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.” Romans 2:12 (NIV)

 

As I meditated on these verses, I realized that Paul is actually establishing the point of the previous verse, “For there is no partiality with God” (v. 11). In the following verses, Paul shows that God will impartially judge everyone for sinning against the light that they were given. His line of reasoning goes like this: the Gentile sins without the law so he will perish without the law. The Jew sins under the law and so he will be judged by the law (v. 12).  In verse 13 Paul writes, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” 

 

These verses are not easy to interpret but as I read and meditated upon them, I came to realize that they are not talking about being perfect, but rather following in the direction of obedience to God’s Word consistently, which we can do only by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is only through God’s saving grace through the gift of his son, who died to redeem sinners who trust in him.

 

I came to understand that my salvation has nothing to do with my good works, but because of God’s mercy and grace, I can never work enough to be saved. Rather, I need to work to show that I amsaved.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the grace and the love that you have shown us through the gift of your son Jesus Christ, that through Him we may come to you blameless and free of guilt. Help us always to look to you for guidance through your Word. Help us always to be mindful of the guiding light of the Holy Spirit in us.

Day 6: Christian "Know-it-alls"

Tuesday, February 23 by John Ogilvie

Scripture Reading: Romans 2:17-24 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.” Romans 2:24

 

Just prior to this verse, Paul warns us that sometimes we let our knowledge of God’s Word and our identity as “children of God” go to our heads. Have we somehow managed to convince ourselves that wehave it all figured out? 

 

If I’m honest, when I hear someone “preaching” their fervent belief that “God is a myth,” or “Faith is good for (weak) people who need a crutch to lean on” or “Who in their right mind could ever believe the Bible’s account of creation?” I do find myself feeling a bit smug.   One day, I think, they’ll KNOW the truth (and wish they’d listened)!

 

Then I hear Paul tell me that these people may have actually learned whatever they knew about Christianity by watching mybehaviour or listening to mywords or witnessing myhypocrisy, and as a result, they want nothing to do with the Lord who was trying to reach out to them through me.

 

 

Prayer: Oh Lord, forgive me please.  Install in me a new heart; a heart that breaks for what breaks Yours.  Teach me how to love, especially those whose only glimpse of You is through their relationship with me.  Help me realize that it is mewho doesn’t have it all together and that I am (still and forever) in complete reliance upon You. Amen.

Day 7: Life Changing Obedience

Wednesday, February 24 by Hannah Juras

Scripture Reading: Romans 2:25-29 (click here to read)

 

Key Verse“The uncircumcised who keep God’s ways are as good as the circumcised—in fact, better. Better to keep God’s law uncircumcised than break it circumcised.” Rom. 2:27 (The Message) 

As I read this passage, there were two things that stuck out to me. First, true obedience starts in the heart, and second, we are blessed to be one people group under God. 

 

Here, Paul points to a deep obedience of the law, not the kind of obedience that lives by a checklist, but the kind that comes from a changed heart. Obedience to ceremonies, traditions, and checklists means nothing if your heart is not truly obedient to Christ. I can pinpoint experiences where I’ve been obedient all in the name of obedience, and while it might have been the “right thing,” the times that I’ve acted in obedience because of how the Lord has truly changed my heart have been the times that I’ve seen God’s glory at work. 

 

Because this obedience is internal, Paul is not making a case against the law or even “for Judaism”; rather, Paul is always for the impartiality of God with all people. I love that Paul is continuously opening God’s Kingdom up to all people, to be united as one people under God. I love that markers of our faith are no longer bound in cultural laws, but found in the deep love and faithfulness in our Obedience to Him. 

 

 

Prayer: Lord, I pray that our obedience would be a marker of our love for you. I ask that you would continue to focus my heart on you and your kingdom. May our love and faithful obedience to you overflow in us today. Thank you for the gift of your love and grace as we fix our eyes on you.

Day 8: No Excuses

Thursday, February 25 by Gary Lai

Scripture Reading: Romans 3:1-8 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” Romans 3:3-4 NLT (quote from Psalm 51:4)

 

In this part of his letter to the Romans, Paul presents and refutes some flawed arguments proposed by some Jews which justify the false notion that since the human condition has some influence on God’s faithfulness, righteousness, and truthfulness, and then perhaps we should deserve some sort of clemency for our sinfulness.  The fact is that we humans time and time again, when tempted by satan, have always tried to justify our sinful nature, beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.  Nevertheless, because of the sovereignty of our omnipotent God, nothing can affect these simple truths: 1) God says what is true; 2) God demands what is right; and 3) God provides what is good.

 

From God’s word and even our personal experience perhaps, we can come to understand and appreciate that God’s character, will, and promises never change.  Undoubtedly, our unrighteousness does bring out God’s righteousness more clearly.  Since our God is just, he cannot let our sins go unpunished; because God also loves us, he provides us with a way to live eternally through Jesus Christ, who is God’s Word.  Let us submit to God’s truths and be obedient to his Word.  Regarding his sovereignty, God clearly puts into context for us, the difference between him and us:  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, KJV)

 

Prayer: Almighty God, we humble ourselves as we marvel at who you are. Your faithfulness is unconditional and your righteousness is absolute.  We run out of words to express how extraordinary you are.  After all, you created heaven and earth; how foolish we are at times, to entertain excuses or even justify our sinful nature under your sovereignty.  Teach us, oh Lord, to be silent in your presence, to unmask our flaws in your light, so that we may fathom your love unto us and worship you in holy awe. Amen.

Day 9: Purity of Heart

Friday, February 26 by Bev Scott

Scripture Reading: Romans 3:9-20 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “Through the Law we become conscious of sin.” 

Romans 3:20

 

Most of us, at some time in our lives, have been stopped by the police for speeding or some other offence.  The realization that we have broken the law hits home with force.


In this portion of Scripture, Paul shows the believers in the Church at Rome the purpose of the Mosaic Law.  It is not meant to give licence to force laws (like circumcision) on Gentile believers who have come to believe by grace.  Paul, being a highly educated Jew himself, knew the Mosaic Law thoroughly.  He quotes from both the Psalms and also Isaiah 59 in this passage from verses 10-18 to reveal how completely depraved ALL of mankind is; therefore no one in all of mankind could keep the Law (see John 7:19).


Of what value, then, is the Law?  Is it defunct? In Romans 3:1, Paul points out that the Law is still of some value in that it reveals our depraved Adamic nature and our need for a redeemer.  Even the Jews, who were the first recipients of God’s Word to mankind, could not keep the Law and are just as much in need of redemption by grace.  He shows how God desires a circumcision of the heart.


The question now remains, is it possible for believers to appear circumcised spiritually on the outside by our behaviour, but be different in our hearts?  God is not pleased with duplicity. He desires purity of heart both internally and externally.  Christ, being sinless, is the only one who could fulfill the Law for us, thereby freeing us from mere outward appearance of being a Christ follower.  Frank Gaebelein, in his excellent commentary on Romans, summarizes this truth succinctly...”the best revelation man has apart from Christ only deepens his awareness of failure.  The Law loudly proclaims man’s need for the Gospel.”[1]

 

Prayer: Lord, we are deeply aware of our helplessness to turn from our sinful ways on our own.   Empower us by your Spirit to live in genuine purity of heart.  Though at times we may be tested and cut to the core, may others, then, see Christ-likeness throughout all our being.  Amen.


[1]The Expositor’s Bible, Frank E. Gaebelein. Vol 10 page 40.

Day 10: Justification: Righteousness Through Faith

Saturday, February 27 by David North

Scripture Reading: Romans 3:21-26 (click to read)


Key Verse: “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.” Romans 3:21

 

This passage of scripture is considered by many to be the central message of scripture. It helped Martin Luther grasp that the justice of God is that righteousness by which, through grace and sheer mercy, God justifies us through faith. 

 

Justification is described as God’s righteous act of removing the condemnation, guilt, and penalty of sin, by grace, while, at the same time, declaring the ungodly to be righteous, through faith in Christ’s sacrifice. 

 

“But now” are the first two words of this passage of scripture. Paul in verse 20 has just declared that no one will be declared righteous by observing the law, rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. “But now” introduces the ‘righteousness from God that comes through faith in Jesus Christ

 

During this season of Lent we have an opportunity to reflect specifically on the reality of what it means to be a Christian, one who accepts the righteousness from God that comes through faith in Jesus Christ.  

 

Additionally, it gives us the chance to reflect on how to live our lives in ways that demonstrate to our spouse, family, neighbors, friends, and strangers our gratitude to God for his gift of justification.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your gift of justification. Help me to daily live my life in ways that demonstrate to others my thankfulness for your forgiveness and justification. As you have forgiven me may I forgive myself and others, especially those closest to me when things are said and done that are hurtful and lacking in love. Amen

Day 11: Justified by Faith Alone!

Monday, March 1 by John Murray

Scripture Reading: Romans 4:1-15 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” Romans 4:7

 

This passage of Scripture goes against our modern day thinking. We believe we have to work, or buy, to obtain anything in this world. Consequently our minds carry that over to things spiritual. When it comes to forgiveness from God, many would prefer to offer a payment such as doing penance or sacrificial giving of some kind. Our passage of Scripture here shows that Abraham received full forgiveness simply by believing.

 

Today there is nothing we can do to earn God’s forgiveness. God’s offer of salvation is purely through his grace and mercy. Because of his love and compassion for us, God gave his son to die on the cross to remove the guilt and punishment of our sin from us. God simply calls us to believe and accept his gift of salvation. He even gives us the faith to believe, as Ephesians 2 says, “…you have been saved through faith--and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”  It is like God offering us something for $50 and saying “Let me give you the $50 to give back to me.”  Salvation is totally from God’s side, as Abraham found out.  Like him, we are simply called to exercise faith, believe and place our trust in God. 

 

The wonderful aspect about salvation is that in spite of our sin and need for forgiveness, God grants that forgiveness and puts us in a place of justification. Someone once said that being justified before God means we are in a position where it is “Just as if I’d” never sinned. That might be an oversimplification, but God certainly removes our guilt and welcomes us into his family.

 

Prayer: Our Father, we can never thank you enough for the wonderful offer of salvation and giving your Son to make it possible. Help us to recognize this incredible truth and accept by faith all that you have for us, and want for us. Help us to appreciate the privilege of being your child and within your family. Thank you for your love and grace. We return our praise to you, which is the least we can do. We rejoice in your salvation, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Day 12: Righteousness Through Faith

Tuesday, March 2 by Lily Du

Scripture Reading: Romans 4:16-25 (click to read)

 

Key Verses: Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring--not only to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. Romans 4:16

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25

 

A miraculous sign was recorded in Genesis, Sara gave birth to Isaac when she was ninety one years old and Abraham was one hundred years old. With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. This event of birth did not rely on Abraham’s capability or his action but only God’s grace. Another miraculous sign was that God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham obeyed and had no hesitation, but our kind God provided a ram as a burnt offering instead of Isaac. Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteous. We are declared righteous because we believe in the name of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, although we are not Jewish. Those who believe are all Abraham’s offspring who can receive the promise of God.

 

Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous. We wear the righteousness of Jesus then we can come to God. Since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again, death no longer has mastery over him. He defeated the evil one and we defeated the evil one in Christ. We can do nothing if we are not in Christ. Jesus is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. He is the mediator of a new covenant that we who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

 

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your kindness and your grace. You gave your one and only Son, he bore our sins and gave himself as a ransom for all men, and he gave us hope for eternal life. Oh Lord, I take refuge in you; when I am weak, you make me strong. Oh Lord, I need you, please be with me. In your Son’s precious name, Amen!


Click here for this devotional in Mandarin.

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Day 13: Just Keep Swimming

Wednesday, March 3 by Jason Rahardjo

Scripture Reading: Romans 5:1-11 (click to read)

 

Key Verses: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

 

The title of this devotional comes from the movie Finding Nemo, a story of a fish, Marlin, and his journey to find his lost son, Nemo. Marlin went through many different challenges and trials before he was able to get to his son. Marlin is accompanied by his friend Dory, and as they encounter problems, she encourages Marlin to just keep going, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...”There was great joy at the end of the film, as Marlin’s perseverance paid off and he found his son. He succeeded in a seemingly impossible task. 

 

Paul is writing to the believers in Rome, to encourage them. As the Church was starting up, Paul knew the Christians were facing many challenges. He reminds them, as followers of Jesus, there will be trials and challenges ahead. But Paul says that as we face the hardships of life, remember that for those who live a life of trust in God and obedience in Him, there is the joy and hope of salvation in the end.

 

I know, it’s easier said than done. Thankfully we aren’t meant to follow Jesus alone. Marlin was not alone on his quest to find his son. He had a friend to encourage him, even though, at times, he didn’t think his friend was helpful at all. Sometimes, we need a reminder, whether we like it or not, there is a community of believers out there that want to love and help you, who want to encourage you, and say to you, “just keep swimming.” 

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray for those who are reading this devotional today, who need to be filled with your love, who are going through rough times, who are in need of your healing. We pray that you send someone to walk alongside them to encourage and help them to endure the hardships that they may be facing. If that person should be me, please guide me in your wisdom and compassion. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Day 14: Condemnation to Justification: God Provides the Way

Thursday, March 4 by Wanda Symons

Scripture Reading: Romans 5:12-17 (click to read)

 

Key Verses: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

 

Being called a “sinner” is not an easy pill to swallow but let’s face it, it’s what we are.  Paul says in Romans 5:12-17 that we were born sinners.  Adam, the head of our race, was not created that way (Genesis 1:26) but because of his deliberate sin of disobeying God, his sinful nature was passed on to us all.  Quite simply, we sin because we are sinners.  

 

We can’t overestimate the impact of Adam’s first sin in the Garden of Eden.  Because he messed up, with that one act of willful rebellion, sin and death entered the world and we are all doomed.  

 

It is equally difficult to overestimate the impact of Christ’s death on the cross.  Because of that one act of supreme love, God’s free gift of grace came into the world and a way was provided for sinners (you and me!) to become saints.  Two ends of the spectrum could not be farther apart!   

 

When we were born in this body, we were born a descendant of Adam.  No choice here at all.  We have his sinful nature.  When we are born into the family of God, by Jesus Christ, we have Christ’s nature, which is holy.  One Man’s righteousness made it possible for the whole human race to go from condemnation to justification and a glorious life in Jesus Christ.  Take a minute (or a lifetime!) to praise God for this!

 

Both Adam and Christ made choices that affected all of humanity—only Christ had the greater impact.  We can’t choose to be a descendant of Adam, but we can choose to be a child of God.  


Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that this isn’t too good to be true.  Even though we were utterly helpless with no way of escape, You made a Way.  Thank you for dying on the cross so we can leave our sin there.  Thank you for rolling the tombstone away so we could look in to see that you’d indeed risen.  Thank you for sitting on your Throne where we can bring our fears.  Your Grace, Your Love, and You, God, are incredible. Thank you! Amen.

Day 15: Made Righteous Through Christ

Friday, March 5 by PJ Wall

Scripture Reading: Romans 5:18-21 (click to read) 


Key Verse:“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

 

Paul’s writing is based on his desire for unity among the Roman Christians, both Jews and Gentiles. He shares his concerns for them and explains how they fit into God’s plan. We learn from Romans that sin is refusing to do God’s will and failing to do all He wants us to. Since Adam’s rebellion against God, our nature is to disobey God and thus become sinners.

 

We learn that in His mercy, God provides the way for us to be saved from sin and damnation: by accepting Christ as our savior, the one whose death paid the penalty for our sins. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

As one writer explains, we have inherited Adam’s sinful nature and his guilt. Because of Jesus, we can trade judgement for forgiveness; we can trade our sins for Jesus’ righteousness.

 

Paul tells us what it means to live in faithfulness, in complete submission to Christ. It means using our spiritual gifts to serve others, genuinely loving others and being good citizens.

 

Paul’s theme in Romans is a retelling of the story of God’s work to bring salvation to the entire world through the nation of Israel. As sin entered the world through one man, Adam, righteousness entered the world through Jesus Christ. For us, one by one, there is an invitation – an invitation to lead a life of righteousness reflecting God’s will.

 

We learn that righteousness is a gift that comes from the Lord to those who accept what Jesus has done for them by faith (Romans 5:17-19). We learn also that the gift of salvation produces a changed heart that in turn changes our actions.

 

Prayer: We pray, O Lord, that you will strengthen us, help us to follow a righteous path and be living examples of goodness and virtue. Help us Lord when we stumble, help us when we feel weak or dismayed, breathe the essence of resolve into us that we may continue to grow in your grace, to reflect more of your love and kindness and be more righteous in your eyes. We pray for a loving heart and actions that reflect your will for us. We pray this in Jesus’ holy name, Amen.

Day 16: The Power of Christ

Saturday, March 6 by Jeanne Jang

Scripture Reading: Romans 6:1-7 (click to read)

 

Key Verses: “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” Romans 6:6-7

 

War between countries, broken relationships in families, and conflicts between people: all stem from greed, envy, jealousy, self-centeredness, and love of power. We were all born with these traits. As we grow, we were taught by our parents what is right and wrong. As we came out into the world, we experienced and learned what is appropriate and what is not. We give good reasons to excuse ourselves from acting a certain way when our hearts convict us. When we accepted Christ into our hearts, we were buried with him in baptism and raised up with him, born to a new life, a life that is free from sin. His words open our eyes, help us examine our hearts, and give us the wisdom to know how to live a holy life.

 

Are we still giving ourselves reasons to feel better when we "misbehave," or ignoring the conviction we might feel in our hearts? Are we taking God's grace for granted? We have the power to overcome the world if we walk closely with Christ and are filled with His teachings. Our minds would be renewed and our hearts strengthened. We would be protected from the temptations of our desires and love will flow through us.

 

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, thank you for your love and endless grace that we take for granted as we live our lives from day to day. Forgive us for times when we ignore your teachings to follow our own desires or even put you out of our minds. Help us to thirst for you, hear your words, bind them to our hearts and put them into use. Remind us always that we are now in Christ and free from sin, therefore, we have the power to overcome the world.  

Day 17: Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

Monday, March 8 by Denaline Silverwood

Scripture Reading: Romans 6:8-14 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. “ Romans 6:10

 

The passage for today refers to believers dying with Christ (symbolically in our baptism), and our belief that we will also live with him. Christ was crucified and raised from the dead; he cannot die again. Death has no mastery over him.

We are encouraged to count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus and not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies in that we would obey its evil desires.

 

When I read this, I automatically think of the sins of lust, gluttony, greed, stealing, lying, coveting, etc. These sins are some of the ones spoken of in the 10 commandments in the Old Testament. Our passage today is referring to these of course. We are not to offer the parts of our bodies to these sins as instruments of wickedness.

 

However, there is something else as well on my mind today. I have a dear life-long friend who is a devoted Christian lady, who has just been diagnosed with very aggressive cancers in both breasts and lymph-nodes. She is now facing aggressive chemotherapy, and has had C.T. scans, other testing and will face a double mastectomy as well. Plus she is experiencing a sore throat, and that just after testing negative for COVID.

 

Even at times like these, when the evil of illness can ravage our bodies, we are called to offer ourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life in Christ Jesus. Our bodies are instruments of his righteousness; even at a time such as this, and especially. Illness shall not be our master. We live under God’s Grace.

 

Prayer: Our Precious Lord Jesus Christ! We know that we struggle with sin in our hearts, thoughts and souls. We know too that we can be afflicted with illnesses in our bodies and minds. Please give us your Grace and Mercy to submit our total selves to You, for You are truly Our Master, Saviour and Lord. Thank you for coming to earth to die for us, so that we might have Faith in You, and so live Eternally with You in Glory! Praise you this Lent & Easter 2021 Lord and Heavenly Father! Praise You Holy Spirit! AMEN

Day 18: Who Guides Your Way?

Tuesday, March 9 by Fay Puddicombe

Scripture Reading: Romans 6:15-23 (click to read)

 

Key Verse“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:16

 

In this passage Paul uses the ‘slave’ imagery because that was a common place understanding. He even says in the passage that he is using it because it will make sense to them. Perhaps not so much for us. While there are still various types of slavery in our world today, perhaps we could use the employer/employee example to help it make sense. 

 

When you work for someone, they ‘call the shots’. They decide what you get paid what, how and when you do your job. If sin is your boss, the wages are death! But if you are following God, listening to him, being directed by him, your ‘wage’ is righteousness and your ‘pension’ is eternal life!  

 

Using an employment scenario might make you think you can work for God’s favour. Please remember it is all a gift to you! You just have to ask. Once you are part of God’s family, you want to listen for His voice, you want His direction! What a joy to know God is waiting for you to say “Yes Lord, speak to me, guide my life!”

 

Prayer: Often, Lord, I listen to the wrong messages, and I let them guide my thoughts and actions. Thank you, Lord, that I can choose to listen to your voice and leading. Thank you that you always listen, even if I have strayed away for a time. Thank you for your love that offers righteousness and eternal life! 

Day 19: Lawless People

Wednesday, March 10 by Sheelagh Stone

Scripture Reading: Romans 7:1-6 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: Therefore, you have also become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another - to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit for God.” Romans 7:4

 

There are lots of movies and TV shows about the sheriff/marshal riding into town to bring “law and order to the wild west.” He is confronted by the lawless inhabitants, and in most cases, law triumphs over lawlessness, and the townsfolk settle into a life of peace and prosperity. They are content with their change from a lawless people to lawful citizens of the new frontier.

 

In Romans 7, Paul calls us to return to our lawless state; to abandon our security. Why? A story is told of a newspaper in the UK sending out the question, “What is wrong with the world today?” to a number of famous academics for an answer. One of the answers came back stating, “Dear Sir, I am. Sincerely, G.K. Chesterton.”

 

We lawful, fearful Christians are what is wrong with the world today. We are to be dead to the law and alive to lawlessness under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. During the recent Red Letter Challenge, we studied the lawless way of Christ, to whom we are now married. Only by becoming citizens of the new frontier of Christ, can we live the life we are meant to live - one that “bears fruit for God.”

 

Prayer: Dear Lord God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Only through the power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can I become the fruit-bearing person you call me to be.

Day 20: The Minefield of Sin

Thursday, March 11 by Sharon Block

Scripture Reading: Romans 7:7-13 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “...Is the law of God sinful? No! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, ‘You must not covet.’” Romans 7:7

 

We are all born with a terminal “sin” disease. We would never have known, had God not given us the law in the Bible. The law, like an x-ray, reveals our heart’s sin, but does nothing to cure us.

 

A good friend of mine blacked out and fell down the stairs. She was found unconscious in a heap at the bottom. She woke up in the hospital, screaming, “My leg! My leg!” When the doctors x-rayed her body, it not only showed a broken femur, but also a life-threatening tumour, just under her skull. 

 

Some sins, like murder, are easily recognized as wrong, whereas others are deceptive. My friend easily recognized her leg problem. It hurt like crazy! But just as the x-ray also revealed the hidden tumour, so God also sees our hidden sins, like coveting and pride. Since we have a sinful nature, we are beset in life with sinful temptations as in a minefield. The law identifies where the sin mines are, though try as we might, we are in bondage to sin, so we can’t stop sinning. 

                                                                                                                                       

Our sin separates us from the abundant, eternal life God created us for. Our sin will result in eternity without God. But God loves us so much he sent his Son, Jesus, to rescue us. God’s atoning death on the cross and his resurrection gives us the only cure for our sin disease. We can choose eternal life by seeking his forgiveness and trusting him.

His shed blood and broken body so many years ago!

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you, Lord God, for loving us so much and creating us to have a relationship with you. Thank you for sending Jesus to free us from sin’s hold on us. Help us Lord Jesus, to choose life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Day 21: Making the Disaster Perfectly Clear

Friday, March 12 by Ward Cowie

Scripture Reading: Romans 7:14-25 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”Romans 7:24

 

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul keeps moving towards a wonderful and soaring conclusion in chapter 8…but in chapter 7 he first takes us through his personal “war zone” from previous days.

 

In verse 13, Paul summarized his disaster that occurred when the Tenth Commandment had stripped away any of his pretenses as a total law keeper…“sinful beyond measure” he declares. But the apostle must be concerned that the Romans will not take his confession and inability seriously enough.

 

So in verses 14 to 25 he just continues to underline and emphasize this disastrous conclusion with more and more agonizing detail. Ouch. In spite of his elite education, in spite of his zeal for the law as a Pharisee, in spite of his best will power, Paul found himself helpless and doomed as a total law-keeper. And his repetition is just so harsh, even in Lent.

So why is the apostle taking the Romans (and us!) down into his very nasty spiritual portrait from former days? Why grind in his failures and wretchedness so emphatically?

 

It would appear that Paul the Pastor wants the Romans to give up on any and every idea of finding salvation or spiritual growth or a joyful future by trying to completely obey the laws of God. He does not negate the OT laws at all (verse 22) only his complete and utter inability to obey them perfectly.

 

Then finally the conclusion comes in verse 24: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

 

The rough ride of Chapter 7 is done. Paul is finally satisfied that we are ready to leave behind any old self-salvation plans and to join him in turning to the “Who,” the “Who” that towers above our great need. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are waiting for him (and for us) in Chapter 8.

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, your laws are so very good to remember and to live into. But now we join with Paul in realizing our utter need for the work of the Holy Spirit to take us into true freedom and into resurrection power before we can live as your Kingdom people. Amen.

Day 22: Flesh and Spirit

Saturday, March 13 by Susan Kim

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:1-11 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6 

 

God gave me His own Son in order to save me from death. I was a slave to sin, but now I’m free! 

 

Even though I call Him Abba Father, I sometimes stand in between flesh and Spirit. The flesh sets my mind on anxiety, grudges, hatred, and jealousy but the Spirit helps me to focus on Him, guiding me to peace, forgiveness, love, and humility.  

 

We are all in the midst of unprecedented times with COVID. However I fully trust in the presence of the Spirit to help me overcome this tough moment with his endurance. 

 

Prayer: Father, thank you that you delivered me from the sinful flesh to the Spirit of life. The mindset is what people think about and what they focus on. Let me set my mind on you, not to be separated from you Lord forever, Amen!!

Day 23: The  Joy of His Presence

Monday, March 15 by Janet Kirkley

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:12-17 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16

  

Yesterday was my spiritual birthday. On that day back in 1973, life changed from being far from the Lord to the joy of his presence. 

 

I had been searching for God, but in places that brought no joy.  Finally in desperation, I was led by caring people to read John 14:6, “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life...’” Those words jumped off the page and into my heart, and humbled me with their power and depth.  I was His!

 

Then one of God‘s children showed me Romans 8:16, and I understood the great joy I felt in my heart - His glorious presence that I had never known before. Then I knew that the Spirit was bearing witness to my spirit, my deepest self, that indeed Jesus had become my Saviour and Lord.

 

In the 48 years since then, God has been faithful to live in me and to bring me his joy.  And except in short times of disobedience, I have grown to walk stronger in the Spirit and to enjoy being his son and servant. 

 

Birthdays are good times to think back on our story and to remember God‘s blessings upon us, eh? 

 

 

Prayer: Lord God, you are mighty and full of grace.  Thank you for saving me, and for filling me with your Spirit and the joy of your presence. Amen.

Day 24: Suffering Now and Glory in the Future

Tuesday, March 16 by Lisa Streu

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:18-30 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.”1 Cor 11: 31-32

 

Right now, I have a couple of friends who are dealing with unbelievably difficult situations. My heart breaks for them and I wish, more than anything, I could fix things for them. They’re dealing with things that no one should ever have to go through. It feels absolutely hopeless, at times, but by God’s grace, with His love and His mercy, they are managing to survive. 

 

These verses, from Romans 8:18-30, don’t minimize the pain we can experience here on earth—they simply put that pain into an eternal perspective. Romans 8 begins and ends with declarations of a believer’s absolute security in God. For those in Christ, there is no condemnation and absolutely NOTHING can separate us from His love. As believers we now live in the Spirit of God. And His Spirit lives in us! That means we can call God our Father. 

 

We will suffer here on earth, but we know that this world isn’t the end. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can be confident that God is for us, loves us and will never leave us. We live in a broken world and bad things happen. But God has promised that for those who love Him, He will work the bad things together for good. Is it easy? No. Do we wish we didn’t have to go through it? Yes. But, ultimately all that matters is that everyone comes to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. 

 

With the Lord’s help, He can use these trials not only to change us and help us fall more in love with Him, but He can use them to reach those who don’t know Him yet. And that’s what makes going through the trials we face worth it. 

 

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for taking my punishment on the cross. Thank you that I do not need to fear God’s judgment, but can accept it as your loving correction. Please help me never to be judgmental of others, but to focus on taking the log out of my own eye. When I can’t see it, please reveal it to me gently. And may your Spirit give me the power and strength I need to change, producing fruit in me at the right time. Thank you that your mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:13) 

Day 25: What Can Separate Us from the Love of Christ Jesus Our Lord?

Wednesday, March 17 by Eric Finch

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:31-39 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8:35

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

 

Are you feeling confined or lonely? Are you feeling depressed or isolated in these strange times that we live in because of the pandemic? A survey was conducted recently that showed that 40% of Canadians are in a mental health crisis.

 

Yet as Christians we have our faith, we have God’s Word and his promises to comfort us. In this passage from Romans 8:31-37 there are so many comforting promises: 

 

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (v.31) 

 

“Yet in all these things” such as pandemics, loneliness, depression, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us!” (v.37) 

 

“It is Christ who died and is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (v.34)

 

Our Lord has us in his loving hands. He cares for us, he watches over us as the loving Shepherd he is. Trust in Him, he is with us, dwelling in us. He is only a prayer away; he is only a verse of his Word away!

 

So what can separate us from the love of Christ? Answer: Nothing! Because nothing, no one is greater than Jesus and his love.

 

Prayer: Lord thank you for your love. Help us to trust in you, and remember you are always with us, and nothing can separate us from your love, because you are sovereign over all things. Help me to stay close to you through your Word and prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Day 26: Part 1 - Seeking the Truth

Thursday, March 18 by Eleanor North

Scripture Reading: Romans 9:1-9 (click to read)

 

Key Verse:“Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” Romans 9:5

 

v. 1 – 3    Paul speaks truth powerfully, pouring out his heart to Jews who considered Paul a traitor and enemy. He is in spiritual anguish over broken relationships and deeply desires that they recognize Christ as Messiah. He even considered laying down his own life if that would bring his friends to faith.

 

v. 4 – 5   God has blessed the Israelites with unique privileges: adoption as his people; visible glory; covenants; the law; the worship and the promises. Also, patriarchs through whom God would send Christ in human form, the promised Messiah! Paul testifies with passion that Jesus Christ is God. “Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.”

 

v. 6 – 9     God’s plan of justification by faith unfolded in the history of his people and the gift of the Messiah; Paul rejects that hard heartedness to the gospel represents a failure of God’s Word. Finally, he makes clear that God’s promises apply to the descendants of Abraham and Sarah through the promised spiritual heir, Isaac

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that your ways are perfect. We are privileged to be your sons and daughters. May we live lives worthy of your love for us and bring glory to your name. Amen.

Day 26: Part 2 - Concern for Others

Thursday, March 18 by Sue Paul

Scripture Reading: Romans 9:1-9 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” Romans 9:2-4

 

The thing that strikes me most forcefully as I start to read Romans 9 is Paul’s great concern for the lost souls of the Jewish people. He loves them and his concern is that they have missed the wonderful gift of God’s love and salvation through Christ’s sacrifice.

 

We meet and know many people who are, just like the Jews Paul is writing about, lost and missing out on this wonderful gift. They live their lives, possibly thinking they are OK. Maybe they go through the motions of religious practice, but they have never accepted the fact that Christ died for them. I ask myself if I care enough to get this wonderful news to them. This passage is a challenge for me, and for all of us who love and know Christ to share this wonderful message.

 

Rebecca Pippert’s book, Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World outlines the dilemma many of us feel: “Should I be sensitive to people and forget about evangelism, or should I blast them with the gospel and forget about their dignity as human beings?” (pg. 15) I think that Paul is demonstrating the importance of loving them, and having the willingness to share this good news, even if we are rejected. Indeed, all people have to make a choice about whether to accept God’s gift. But how shall they hear about it? It must be through those of us who have already experienced this great news.

 

Prayer: Dear Lord, Help me love those around me with Your passion for them, and help me be sensitive but bold to share the news of your wonderful gift of forgiveness and salvation. Give me courage, grace and discernment. Amen

Day 27: The Gift

Friday, March 19 by  John Block

Scripture Reading: Romans 9:10-21(click to read)

 

Key Verse: “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion. So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” Romans 9:15-16

 

As we continue our Lenten journey, this verse is a reminder of the incredible gift that we have been afforded as God's children. Mercy is not getting what we deserve and cannot be earned. We should never regard God's mercy toward us as our right. If God was in any way obligated to show us mercy, then it would not be mercy. 

 

Judge Frank Caprio is a municipal Judge in Providence, Rhode Island. He is known as the compassionate judge. He often reduces fines and/or dismisses charges based on his assessment of the person's needs and life circumstances. The Judge is in total control and he alone decides who will receive the benefit of his compassionate rulings. 

God is in total control; he alone decides what happens to all of us. He is all about compassion and grace and love which is available to us all. Our Heavenly Father loves us unconditionally and is always looking for an opportunity to demonstrate his love and mercy, despite the fact that we often turn our back on him and focus on our own selfish desires. 

 

God's greatest act of mercy was sending his precious son Jesus to die for us, so that we could receive the most precious gift of mercy: eternal life with him. 

 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we know it's not possible for us to fully comprehend and appreciate the gift of love and life eternal you've given us. Please forgive us for taking your gifts for granted. Help us become your true disciples so we can shine your love and light of mercy wherever we go.

Day 28: Christ, the Stumbling Stone

Saturday, March 20 by Jennifer Friesen

Scripture Reading: Romans 9:22-33 (click to read)

 

Key Verse: “As it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.’” Romans 9:33

 

The New Testament uses many positive metaphors for Christ: Light of the World, Bread of Life, Lamb of God, Good Shepherd, Prince of Peace, the Word of God. But in this passage we are told that Christ also has a negative effect on many people. Just like a rock in our path can make us trip and fall, Christ’s offer of grace is something that many people can’t get past. This passage in Romans talks about “a righteousness that is by faith,” and says that the people of Israel missed out because they could not stop pursuing righteousness as if it were by works. They still believed keeping the law was possible and would please God.  

 

Grace means that Christ has done all the works, kept the law perfectly, fulfilled all the expectations God had for humanity, and that because of his sacrifice for us, we are off the hook. There is nothing we need to do, literally nothing we cando, to make ourselves righteous in God’s sight. This is an offensive message to those who have spent their lives doing all the right things: going to church, giving to the poor, keeping the ten commandments. “Righteousness by faith” means that none of that is worth anything, that it’s all a waste of time in terms of making you righteous in God’s sight. Because, as James tells us, “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10) And all of us mess up somewhere; no one can keep God’s law perfectly, not even you. 

 

Accepting Christ means admitting that you can’t do it, that you are incapable of being a righteous person. That nothing you do will ever be good enough. It requires humility, the admission that you are a sinner and will always be a sinner, and only God’s mercy can save you. We don’t want to hear this. We would like to believe we can improve, that we can do anything we put our minds to. But God says we can’t.


Are you willing to give up and admit you can’t do it? That you are not as good a person as you may have thought? That Jesus is your only hope? If you do, then you will never be put to shame: your sins are washed away, you are a child of God, and you are free!

 

Prayer:  God, we can’t keep the law. We can’t be righteous. We are all sinners deserving of punishment. Why you chose to take that punishment for us we will never understand. But we are grateful, and we will spend the rest of our lives trying to show you that we love you back. Amen.

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