Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 1:8-17 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I am a serial scheduler. I have been both praised and ridiculed for this trait. It has both enhanced my life and hindered my life. It gives me both peace and anxiety. I love plans. I thrive on having the time to mentally prepare for an event, a meeting, a family reunion. The downside to being a planner is that when things don’t go "as planned," I find myself thrown completely out of whack. Another downside is that I am always looking to the future. What’s next? How are we gonna get there? How much time will we need? That can take away some of the joy of living in the present and the wisdom of reflecting on the past.
Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with being a future thinker, but damage can occur when we become future livers. As I have been reading and ruminating over this handful of verses found in the first chapter of Romans, God has laid on my heart many thoughts, questions, and challenges. I have had to battle my cravings for the future and remember to sit still and enjoy the present—even gaze towards the past every once in a while. Paul writes in verse 8, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith has been proclaimed in all the world.”
Two huge personal revelations sit within this text and provide calls to action for us. One is being thankful for the people whom God has put in our lives. The second is being aware of the accomplishments we have gained through Jesus in the past. This verse slyly reminded me that my schedule-minded, future-focused outlook on life can sometimes transport me right past the scenic benches along life’s trail.
In Paul's ministry we see a strategic-thinking and hardworking man. He took spreading the message about Jesus very seriously. Paul planned ahead (noted later on in the chapter when he shares his travel plans with the church in Rome). But in the midst of all of this activity, Paul took the time to thank the people in Rome.
Life with Jesus, life in general, can seem like marathon—uphill and in freezing rain. What Paul reminds me of is the importance of taking time to pause, to say thank you, to acknowledge blessings. There will always be more to do, to plan, to accomplish—and we must press on always, but not without taking moments in between to recognize the people God has put in our lives and the ways He has worked through us to accomplish many good things.
Recalibrate: Looking back on the past few months, who is someone you are thankful for?
Respond: Create time today in prayer to pause and look back at the ways God has worked in your life this past month.
Research: Read an article or two on gratitude. Find a way to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life.
Remember: I am not ashamed of the Good News. It is the power God uses to save everyone who believes—to save the Jews first, and then to save the non-Jews. (Romans 1:16, ICB).
Jessyka Albert is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church with a special responsibility for children's ministry. She is a native of Washington State and a graduate of Union College. Jessyka is known for her passion, energy, and fun-loving approach to sharing the gospel in creative ways.
Paul begins this passage with thankfulness. I don’t know what Paul had been up to the day he wrote this, just like I don’t know how your day has been. I know that when we are thankful, good things happen.
Write a list of all the people you know. Your family, the kids in your class, the kids you play sports with. Thank God for them—even the ones that annoy you. Pray that they will see Jesus somewhere in their day today. Maybe the will see Him in a kind word that you say or in a good thing that a someone helps them with.
When was the last time you felt totally humiliated? Have you ever been so embarrassed that you vowed never to show your face in a certain place again? Did you feel powerless? Now, think about faith. How easy is it for you to have faith in God? Have you ever struggled in your faith journey? Maybe you’ve been told about the power of God and the Gospel and you were like, “I want to believe You . . . I want to have faith . . . but honestly, it’s really hard.” Read Romans 1:16,17. These are some intense words right? This week, we’ll unpack a familiar story in order to make sense of Paul’s thoughts. What does it mean to you to be unashamed of Jesus? To be unashamed of His power for salvation?