THINK: "My faith is a personal issue." You've probably heard someone make a statement like that. Often, this is a person's excuse for keeping quiet about what he or she believes, or it's an attempt to silence others who would be more vocal about their faith. Certainly, a relationship with Jesus is deeply personal, but it's not meant to be a private issue. Christians are not supposed to keep the message of Jesus to themselves. Why would a true believer want to do so anyway? It is a life-transforming message, and it's the only hope for spiritually lost humanity. So don't keep your faith to yourself, and don't be ashamed of the only message that has the power to save people for eternity.
RESPOND: What's the significance of the title, "the Spirit of holiness," and how did the Spirit help to confirm Jesus as God's Son? (See 1:4 note.) What is the relationship between obedience and true, saving faith? (See 1:5 note.) What are "saints," and what does that term imply about Jesus' followers? (See 1:7 note.) What can you tell about Paul's relationship with the Roman believers from the opening of this letter? How does this challenge you regarding your relationship with those whom you lead, serve and work alongside in the church? Why was Paul "not ashamed of the gospel"? (See 1:16 note.) In what way are verses 16-17 key to the entire book of Romans? How would you define or describe spiritual "salvation"? What is "righteousness" and what does it mean to be righteous? (See Glossary of Terms, beginning on p. 2265.) How are faith and righteousness related? (See 1:17 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to help you demonstrate your faith by obeying His Word. Pray that you'll never be ashamed of Jesus' message but that you'll trust it's power to transform lives as you boldly share it. Thank Jesus for your spiritual salvation.
ACT: Sometime today, read the article on Biblical Words for Salvation, p. 1577. This will give you a better understanding of what it means to be spiritually saved and how salvation affects your life. It will also help you to convey Jesus' message to others who still need to experience salvation. Make a deliberate effort today to demonstrate that you're not ashamed of Jesus or His message. Look for ways to instigate spiritual conversations.
THINK: Have you noticed that a lot of people who are considered intelligent by human standards are skeptical of - or outright opposed to - spiritual issues, particularly Christian faith and the standards of God's Word. This proves that worldly wisdom is essentially the opposite of true, godly wisdom. In fact, worldly thinking and behavior always tend to suppress and defy God's truth. But those who are humble and open-minded enough to consider how God has revealed himself and to take Him at His Word will discover the truth. Their hearts will be receptive to God's love and forgiveness. Their minds will be open to His wisdom. And their lives will be renewed by His life-transforming power.
RESPOND: What is "the wrath of God" and what provokes it? (See 1:18 note.) How is God's wrath evident at present, and how will it be unleashed in the future? How can people escape God's wrath? How should God's wrath against "the godlessness and wickedness" (v. 18) influence Jesus' followers? (See 1:18 note, sub-point 5.) How do godless people "suppress the truth" (v. 18)? How are God's "invisible qualities" (v. 20) evident in creation? How do people who claim to be wise often prove to be foolish instead? (See 1:22 note.) In what ways do people who defy God demonstrate foolishness? What does it mean that "God gave them over to sexual impurity"? (See 1:24 note.) Why does God do this? What does it mean that people exchange God's truth for a lie, and how does this relate to honoring other things above God? (See 1:25 note.) What does this passage indicate about homosexual behavior? (See 1:27 note.) What other equally detestable, yet common, behaviors result from failing to honor and follow God (vv. 29-31)? Are any of these sins worse than the others? Why or why not? (See 1:27 note.) How can God transform people's lives, helping them overcome sinful tendencies? What evidence is there in society that people not only defy God themselves, but also approve of others who defy His ways? (See 1:32 note.) Why is this such a serious issue? In what ways are some who claim to be Christians guilty of such approval? What affect does this have on society?
PRAY: Give God thanks for who He is and for specific things He does in your life. Pray that people you know who are caught up in God-defying behaviors and lifestyles will recognize God's truth and trust Him to transform their lives.
ACT: Look through several news and information sources, making mental note of how people approve of ungodly behaviors. Pray for the people and situations you come across in this exercise. Reach out and demonstrate God's love to people who are caught up in things that defy and dishonor God. Pray for opportunities to influence them for Christ.