Daily Verse – Endurance, Encouragement, Hope.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Romans 15:4 NIVUK

There are more opinions and points of view in the world now than there has ever been.

News outlets and social media algorythms may try and manoevure you down a particular path, but search any #hastag on any topic and you will see what I mean.

It was no different in the 1st Century Church.

The main pull, or push, here was the necessity or centrality of the Jewish scriptures to the new followers of the Way.

The Apostles were all Jews, as were many of the first disciples, but this was quickly changing with many examples being given in the first chapters of the Book of Acts.

The Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Romans whilst under ‘house arrest’ to new believers in Rome. These new believers had different backgrounds and religious upbringings. Most were not Jews.

Before this Paul had challenged Peter, Jesus’ brother James, and other leaders of the church, face to face in Jerusalem over new believers being drawn into Jewish customs, which were not strictly of the teachings of Jesus.

In this verse Paul is explaining that the Hebrew scriptures were important for teaching us, not matter what our religious background or ethnicity.

The scriptures teach us endurancehupomoné – patience, steadfastness, or consistency – through many examples of faith and following the Word of the Lord; Abraham, Noah, Daniel, Joseph, spring readily to mind.

The scriptures also give us encouragementparaklésis – comfort, consolation, solace, exhortation – the Psalms are the obvious examples.

Together, Paul tells us that endurance and encouragement are there to provide sustanence for our hopeelpis – an expection or a confidence. It can also be translated as ‘faith’ – the scriptures support our faith through the people who have lived out that faith themselves.

The Book of Hebrews provides a very worthy list of those Old Testament ‘heroes of faith’.

Each, in our own individual way, will have to endure difficulties and hardships, disappointments and disadvantages, but Paul reminds us that with patience and consistency, a steadfast attitude, we will meet the challenge. There will also be encouragement to give us confidence and an expectation of comfort and consolation, through our faith.

Scripture is important because it reminds us that we are amongst many faithful followers of the Lord, who look to and call upon God.

Verse of the Day: Romans 8:1

https://www.bible.com/en-GB/bible/113/ROM.8.1.NIVUK

In this verse the Apostle Paul uses the Greek work katakrima for the word condemnation.

He tells us there is no condemnation – no penalty, no punishment or penal servitude following from a condemning.

There are only two other usages of katakrima besides this one in the New Testament and both occur in Romans 5:16 and 5:18. Both refer to the penalty of Adam’s sin and how, through Christ, the penalty for that sin has been paid for good.

In some ways this is an easy concept to understand but much more difficult to take on board.

It is as if a stranger had just walked up to you and offered you a £1,000,000. You would be looking around to try and work out what was going on. Really? The money must be fake. There must be a catch.

Paul reassures us, there is no ‘penalty’ for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. Those who are part of the body of Christ. Those of us who find out belief and peace in God through His son.

I love the way The Message Version puts this part of the verse:

‘Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. ‘

https://my.bible.com/bible/97/ROM.8.1-2

How many of us feel as if we are still under that continuous, low-lying black cloud?

The Good News is that we are able to move out from under it into newer, clear blue skies.

The Daily Verse

‘What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.”’ The Message

Romans 4:3

Make a list of all the things God is doing for you at the moment.

Make a list of all the things you have asked God to do for you, but you are trying to beat him to completing them.

The Apostle Paul most likely sent this letter from Corinth.

He was writing to the Christians in Rome who were from both the Jewish and Gentile population.

Jew were Jews, and Gentiles were everyone else, by Jewish definition.

The problem was that both groups had baggage as far as their beliefs were concerned.

Those who were Jewish had spent their whole lives adhering to the Laws of Moses, which governed every aspect of their days.

The Gentiles probably had a much looser lifestyle but which could have been constrained in just as many different ways according to their following of other gods.

Paul is helping to set the record straight, as far as belief in God and Jesus was concerned.

This verse could equally apply to both groups, however.

The mention of Abraham possibly indicates that the Jewish group needed to listen more carefully.

Abraham believed God when He spoke to him without having proof.

He had faith.

The Jews believed that their adherence to the rules set them right with God.

Paul reminds them that Faith beats Law.

The first part of this verse is so important.

Abraham entered into what God was doing for him . . .

We have to be like Abraham and enter in – believe – in what God is doing for us.

We may need strength, or healing, or encouragement, and we ask in prayer for those things.

Now we enter in to a state of mind, or being, where we trust God is acting for us.

We may choose to pray further for this help, but there is nothing wrong with that – it isn’t doubt!

In prayer we let go of our anxieties and worries, which is good.

For God this is the turning point.

Abraham trusted God to set him right and his actions then reflected this.

Abraham did not try to be right on his own.

Possibly often we try and make our own path, forgetting about God.

There are occasions in the story of Abraham where he didn’t always get it right, but far more where he did, because he believed what God told him.

Have faith. Believe in God acting for you.

Then speak and act as though that action will happen.

Sometimes we may get diverted because we get bothered by the time line.

Abraham was told that he would be the father of many nations and that his children would be as numerous as the stars in the sky.

Abraham had to wait until the birth and death of Jesus for that to happen.

Hopefully you won’t have to wait as Abraham long!