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Romans 9:1-18

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— 2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 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, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

God’s Sovereign Choice

6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.”

10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For 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.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Today's devotion is brought to you by Lei Lani Dibert. We are thankful for her love for Christ.

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

As I sit here on this cold rainy January day, reading and rereading this ninth chapter of Romans, verses 1-18, I'm struck by two things. First, this seems very different than how Paul clearly presents the Gospel in the first eight chapters. This chapter reads as if it is clearly above my pay grade, and it's meant to remind me of this. As Paul outlines in the first thirteen verses the difference between simply being a bloodline DESCENDANT of Abraham versus one who has INHERITED God's promise to Abraham, he smoothly transitions into "but what does this say about God?" This brings me to my second observation: it feels as if I should read it as a child asking questions of her really wise parent, and be content with the answers--or perhaps not even getting answers! In other words, the chapter reminds me of His greatness because I confess that I do forget that! We in our humanness many times act as if God should consult us or, at a minimum, explain Himself to us. There are many that want to sit in judgment of God, to question his character, his goodness, his makes us feel less out of control in this world to think we have SOME level of input or control or even an ability to explain why things are the way they are. It really does remind me of the time my oldest, at about four years of age, very seriously called me by my first name at a friend's house and suggested that it was time to go. My sweet little one thought if she approached me as an equal, she'd have an equal say (or even input!) in the decision making. All she needed to know was that I, as her mama who loved her so incredibly much, had it all figured out and was in control. This passage greatly humbles me regarding God's sovereignty over all things, both great and small. It comforts me as I think about His relentless grace and compassion. It reminds me that, as His little child, my vision is very limited. It comforts me that He is perfectly good, even though in my humanness I can't see what He is doing. It gives me hope and grows my faith that God is always accomplishing His purpose. And, finally, it fills me with awe and worship at the mystery of our salvation, the things I can't grasp and understand. As the clay, may I never question the Potter, but always trust that He has it all figured out. His sovereign plan for me--and all of us--is solid and trustworthy. Yes and Amen!

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