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Daily Devotion for October 3, 2011
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
"For Each New Morning"For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
I thank thee.
Prayer for the Nation
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant us to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That we may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
But a good word makes it glad.
Romans 2:12-16 (ESV)
Those Who Do Not Have the Law
For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Notes on the Scripture
Today's passage is a continuation of Paul's discussion of Jews and Gentiles. Those who "have sinned without the law" are Gentiles; those who "have sinned under the law" are Jews. A simple summary of this passage is that it does not matter to God who you are or what you know. The important thing is what is in your heart and how well you follow your conscience.
A similar situation exists today. We have all seen people and churches, who know the Bible backwards and forwards and can cite Scripture fluently; and yet, they say and do things that are patently wrong, sometimes downright evil. We see people using the name of Christ to advocate murder, race war, and polygamous child marriage. Even more common is stark hypocrisy — speaking Christian love and morality from the pulpit, while committing heinous crimes in private.
Most of us have also seen the polar opposite. There are people who, for whatever reason, have not been exposed to Biblical Christianity or have been alienated from organized religion by rank hypocrisy, but who lead lives of Christian virtue, both in thought and deed. This is the very situation Paul is talking about: "it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law . . . ."
Which of these is more likely to find forgiveness? Paul tells us, in effect, that although they may be unable to hear the law, there are Gentiles whose beliefs and acts bear witness to God's righteousness.
We must always return to our own lack of authority to judge others. We understand how to find salvation for ourselves, because the Bible spells it out. But we have no idea how God will judge others. We are forbidden to judge the righteousness of others and we do not know how God will judge them. Christ said, in effect, that He was the way and the only way to salvation. But Paul seems to be saying that one might find salvation through Christ without ever hearing His name!
This idea is startling and interesting. But it has no practical consequences for us. We have, in effect, "heard the law". The lesson for us is that righteousness is not found in rhetoric. Righteousness is rather found in sincerity of belief, and in the actions that naturally flow from it.