Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer.
Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.
There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.
Romans 2:29, “No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people. (NLT)”
The book of Romans is Paul’s history of salvation. It’s the story of God’s purpose, plan and gift of deliverance for those who will have a right relationship with Him. It’s a story that began with the Jewish nation. Starting in Genesis people chose to reject God. We still do today. God has made himself and his desire for us clearly known but we have said, “No. I’d rather do things my way.”
Like a Father trying to re-establish a relationship with an estranged child by working through a mutual friend God chose the Jewish people to carry His message to the world. They were supposed to be a nation of priests and priest to the nations. He gave them His law, told them His story, asked them to share that story with the world and promised His blessing if they would. It was the family business passed down in the form of a covenant from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and throughout all the tribes of Israel. But the Jewish people were as rebellious as everyone else. They rejected God again. They rejected the family business. Their knowledge made them arrogant. They misused His word to claim they stood above the world rather than to offer salvation to the world. They became no better off than than the non-Jewish people who rejected God without His word. Worse, they led non-Jewish people to believe things about God that weren’t true because they misrepresented Him and the family business.
In Romans 2 God sets the record straight. He reminds the Jewish people why He chose them, not because they were righteous or worthy, but because He wanted them to tell the story of salvation to the world. He reminds everyone about the family business and brings the mission of that business into focus. He makes it clear that salvation isn’t a gift for Jews alone. The message, the family business, was the special gift to the Jews. Salvation is for everyone!
I would paraphrase Romans 2:29 like this, “No, a true follower of God is one whose heart is right with God. And true salvation is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.”
As a Believer in Jesus Christ I’ve received the gift of salvation and inherited the family business. What story does my life tell about God’s work in me and through me? Is my faith defined by a narrowly focused list of rules? Has my knowledge of the Word, my participation in church and my desire to avoid ‘sin’ caused me to become arrogant? Do I measure my worth by the ‘good’ things I do? Is there a better way to measure? Do I represent God well? Am I living the mission of the family business?
Knowing and following God’s Word is important. Avoiding sin is a good thing, but there is more to a life of faith than the letter of the law. It is the Spirit at work in me and through me, sometimes even in spite of me, drawing me into a deeper relationship with God and significant relationships with others. It is me, living well, following God and involved in the lives of people. My interaction with people should encourage and challenge them to understand more of God and grow deeper in their faith. If they aren’t yet Believers my life and words should cause them to consider the value and validity of the message. Because of our relationship with one another they should see they are making a clear choice, to reject or receive the message. Whether or not they receive or reject Christ doesn’t have to break our relationship. On the contrary, it’s a significant part of the message for me to demonstrate that I (and God) love them regardless of their choice.
For Believers, my life should encourage and strengthen their faith. We should lean on one another in tough times, celebrate together in our successes and share our experience and knowledge of God as our faith grows deeper.
Thank you for including me in the family business. Thank you for giving us your Word and for the kind way you have drawn me to yourself. Thank you for the people you’ve placed in my life who encourage, challenge and strengthen my faith. Increase my ‘relational bandwidth’ – give me the time, energy and attention to love people better, not just the ones who are already in my life, but the ones I have yet to meet and the ones I’m just starting to know. I pray that in all I do today I would I would represent You well.
I love you, in Jesus name –
There’s so much more in this chapter…what did God speak to you?