Read an Excerpt
New Women's Devotional Bible-NIV-Compact
By Zondervan Publishing
Zondervan Publishing CompanyCopyright © 2008 Zondervan Publishing
All right reserved.
Perhaps the most assuring words in all the Bible are the very first. In the beginning, God. The story of Genesis, in fact, is the story of beginnings. It breathes life into humanity and gives rise to relationship between God and his people. A familiar read to many as the book where God creates, perhaps more meaningful is that, here, God walks. With us. Before us. Among us. From beginning to end, he walks in and among his people. Like a beautiful tune airily drifting in one's mind throughout the day, God is there. He strolls among his first creation, talks with Noah and roams with Abraham. He welcomes Isaac, Jacob and Joseph into the world and presides at their deaths. He is the God who is present. Ever-constant. Ever there. As you read through the melody of stories, let the deeper significance of the opening note resonate within you: "In the beginning, God."
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God-2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was adescendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to faith and obedience for his name's sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul's Longing to Visit Rome
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come.
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong-12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed-a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
God's Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
God's Righteous Judgement
2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 God "will repay everyone according to what they have done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges everyone's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
The Jews and the Law
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth-21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person's praise is not from other people, but from God.
3 What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? 2 Much in every way First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.
3 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God's faithfulness? 4 Not at all Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:
"So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge."
Numbers 18:20 God is our inheritance "The Lord said to Aaron, "You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites."
MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS
ASSIGNED READING: Luke 2:19, 21-40 "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19
"DID YOU HEAR anything I just said?"
Startled by the piercing tone of the market manager's voice, Mary blinked rapidly as if awakening from a deep dream. She quickly responded, "Yes ... so sorry. That challah loaf there-that is fine." "And these cloves, too," she added, clutching three heads of garlic in her hand. Mary quickly paid the manager his due and headed home before her young son awoke from his nap.
So much had happened in the past year, she'd hardly taken time to think through all of it. At any given moment, her mind would suddenly float away to memories. Yet she could never grasp their full meaning.
As the afternoon sun cast a shadow of her small frame on the dirt path, various scenes flashed through her mind. That first day in the temple. The look of rapture on the prophetess Anna's face as she blessed our baby. And what did Simeon mean-something about a sword piercing my own soul someday?
Mary turned a corner and saw the familiar roofline of her home in the distance. Almost home. She smiled to herself, recalling the warm feeling of security that had washed over her when they first saw the outline of the sleepy town of Nazareth. They had been so frightened, but Joseph felt God leading them there through his dreams. And now, though not his birthplace, their son would come to know it as "home." Jesus of Nazareth.
"You are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High ..."
Like a thousand times before, her mind pondered the angel's words and the Magi's posture at the cradle-all as if for the first time. Mary stored each moment and memory surrounding her precious baby boy inside of her heart. Tucked away treasures, they were her comfort and her assurance. Most of all, they were hers and hers alone to ponder. No one else could share her chosen place-the earthly mother of the Son of God.
So much had happened in the past year, she'd hardly taken time to think through all of it. Mary stored each moment and memory surrounding her precious baby boy inside of her heart. Tucked away treasures, they were her comfort and her assurance. Most of all, they were hers and hers alone to ponder. No one else could share her chosen place-the earthly mother of the Son of God
Worship Equips Us for Service Read: Leviticus 16: 10, 20-22
RELATED READINGS Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 53:3-6; Hebrews 10:1-14 LEVITICUS 16:10 But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. reflection 1 What does the image of the scapegoat tell you about God's love for you? 2 Are you still holding onto guilt? How can you let God remove it from you today? 3 What purpose does an annual reminder of sin serve (The Day of Atonement / Good Friday)?
The one sole thing in myself in which I glory is that I see in myself nothing in which I can glory. Catherine of Genoa
THE SCAPEGOAT doesn't deserve what it gets. Innocent by definition, it becomes guilty by association.
The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was a day like no other on the Jewish calendar. It was Israel's most solemn and holy day, the day the priest offered sacrifices for the sins of the people, making Israel once again a holy people set right with a holy God.
The priest sacrificed two goats that day. One was slaughtered as a sin offering, its blood sprinkled before God in the Most Holy Place. The second was designated the scapegoat. The priest placed his bloody hands on the goat's forehead and confessed the sins of the people, transferring the collective sins of many to one. The goat was then removed, taken away and banished into the wilderness, symbolizing the removal of both sin and guilt.
The ritual was repeated year after year. One goat slaughtered. The other banished. But it wasn't enough. It was only a shadow of what was yet to come.
Nearly 1500 years after the law was given to Moses, Jesus came as the perfect sacrifice, becoming both the sin offering and the scapegoat. Though innocent, he chose to take on himself the guilt of sin. With his death and burial, sin was both forgiven and removed. Good Friday became a day like no other on the Christian calendar, the day Jesus himself made those who follow him a holy people set right with a holy God for all of eternity.
Forgiveness is a priceless gift that could never be earned. But the removal of guilt goes even further. Sin is not just washed over or covered. It is taken away and banished, just as the scapegoat was banished into the wilderness. Guilt no longer has a place in the life of a Christian. It has been dealt with once and for all by the perfect scapegoat, the One who was innocent and yet chose to become guilty. For you. Because he loves you.
The priest sacrificed two goats that day. One was slaughtered as a sin offering, its blood sprinkled before God in the Most Holy Place. The priest sacrificed two goats that day. The second was designated the scapegoat. The priest placed his bloody hands on the goat's forehead and confessed the sins of the people, transferring the collective sins of many to one. The goat was then removed, taken away and banished into the wilderness, symbolizing the removal of both sin and guilt.
Excerpted from New Women's Devotional Bible-NIV-Compact by Zondervan Publishing Copyright © 2008 by Zondervan Publishing. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.