Romans (Today's New International Version unless otherwise noted)
God’s Sovereign Choice
1I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised!a Amen.
Lord, Paul has a passion for the saving of his people that is so intense he is almost willing to sacrifice his own salvation for their sake. Give me that type of passion for the salvation of my family. Lord, help me to see each of them as they truly are. Help me to plead for them, and love them, and do anything you ask for their sakes. Help me understand their eternal future and your desire for them. Make me passionate about their relationship with you.
6It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”b 8In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”c
10Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”d 13Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”e
Father, it is obvious that you can choose whoever you want. You call one and not another, and I don't know why. It is not for me to know. I am to follow and obey and believe that you always choose correctly and what is best. Your will be done Father. Now, in this regard, I'm not sure my prayer matters Father, but please, choose my family. Choose my wife, and my sons, and my daughter. I think you have already called some of them. I see you in their lives. Call them all Father, in Jesus' name I pray.
“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”f
So Father, why did you choose to show me mercy? Of course, I really have no right to know, and no reason I should know. It cannot be me, it must just be you Father. Help me then to show mercy to everyone around me. I did not deserve your mercy, so I should show mercy to those in my life who don't deserve it.
16It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”g 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
Please Father, do not harden the hearts of those I love. Show them mercy. Bring them home. Of course it is up to you and I trust your judgment. Who am I to question you? When have I ever been right about anything? Please Father, show mercy to my family. But in the end, your will be done Father, your will be done, today in my life.
19One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”h 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Father, you can form me into anything you want, and I suspect you will! How easily will I be formed? Help me to quickly conform to your will. Help me to be easy to mold and to shape. Help me to change any way you want me to. So far in my life Father, I feel like I am such a slow learner. I even see my most
recent sins and I am so ashamed. Will I never learn? I am yours Father, do with me as you will – whatever it is!
22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25As he says in Hosea:
“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”i
“It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,
‘You are not my people,’
they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”j
27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
“Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
only the remnant will be saved.
28For the Lord will carry out
his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”k
29It is just as Isaiah said previously:
“Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.”l
Lord Jesus, I know that perhaps I am taking this a little out of context, but I think you are reminding me that I was not yours, but you chose me. I was lost, and you found me. You could have left me die in my sin, but you died for me. Why you chose me, I need not know, that is for you. But you chose me and we are one. Thank-you Lord, thank-you.
30What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” 33As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”m
You are a stumbling stone Lord. It is such an odd thing. You blessed me by showing me how awful a sinner I was, and then you died for my sins. How can seeing my own depravity be a blessing? And yet it was, it is. Oh Lord, please keep opening my eyes to my sins and my foolishness and my pride. Forever bring my sins to my mind so I may repent, and come to your cross, and die to those sins, and rise with you forever.
a 5 Or Christ, who is over all. God be forever praised! Or Christ. God who is over all be forever praised!
b 7 Gen. 21:12
c 9 Gen. 18:10,14
d 12 Gen. 25:23
e 13 Mal. 1:2,3
f 15 Exodus 33:19
g 17 Exodus 9:16
h 20 Isaiah 29:16; 45:9
i 25 Hosea 2:23
j 26 Hosea 1:10
k 28 Isaiah 10:22,23
l 29 Isaiah 1:9
m 33 Isaiah 8:14; 28:16