Romans 1:24

“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves." 

If we continue to quest for idols, for creation rather than the Creator, for “images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (vs. 23), eventually God will give us up to our desires.  It’s what I often call “Burger King theology.”  It’s God’s way of saying, “Have it your way.”  

It’s the absolute refusal to make God the center of our lives.  All sins are centered here.  Every wrong behavior somehow, some way, finds itself rooted in the desire to worship creation rather than the Creator.  It’s the stubborn stiff-arming of God, a failure to praise him in every good  that comes to us.

Is this you?  Is the living God of the universe the center of your life?  Or is creation, the things of this world with no eternal value?


I am an optimist.  I believe God is in control of His world.  I believe He works all things together for our good and His glory for those who love, trust and obey Him.  I believe His plans for His people are good, for a future and a hope (even though we often have to wait long periods of time for these promises to come true).

But I’m also a realist.  I know we live in a terribly fallen world.  I know this world does not operate according to God’s original intent.  One day, Jesus will return and God’s created order will be restored.  But until that day, life often stinks.  Hurts still happen.

Therefore, in 2015, don’t be surprised if you see:

·      A continual, aggressive expansion of ISIS, where evil is personified in horrific fashion.

·      More cities in the United States experiencing the tinderbox of racial tensions and anger.

·      More revelations of leaders with hidden sins that are just now being exposed.

·      A fluctuating economy, one that will take a few dips and dives in the new year.

·      More global tensions among nations, as each seeks its own safety, security and power.

I believe all this (and more evil) will occur because sin is still in the world.  Malevolent evil still prospers, and will continue to do so, until Jesus returns.

But don’t despair.  God still sits on his throne.  He oversees the tumult of the nations.  He is guiding the prejudice in souls.  

Yes, we need to work for God’s kingdom in heaven to come to earth.  That’s our job description.  It’s a forever job description.  It won’t change until Jesus returns.

And he will return.  Just don’t be discouraged.  Remain hopeful in this new year.  

God knows what he is doing!


Romans 1:23

“…and exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”

What do fools do?  They exchange the truth about God for a lie.  They make up reasons not to believe.

What are they actually doing?  They are serving the creature rather than the Creator.  They are worshiping all God has given to them without acknowledging God.  They are worshiping themselves, humanity, putting God in their own image.  They serve themselves rather than the Creator.

And this is an out and out lie.

And when Paul thinks about his Creator, he erupts into praise and worship:  “Who is blessed forever!”, he says.  Paul blesses his Maker when even one thought enters his mind about God.

Is this what happens to you when you think about God?  If not, why not?


Romans 1:22

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

So many in the world claim to be wise.  They have education, even multiple degrees.  They regularly think about life, purpose and meaning.  They educate others about these subjects, while excluding God.

These people are not wise in God’s sight.  They don’t have true wisdom.  True wisdom not only knows facts, it knows how to apply those facts to every day living, all for God’s glory.

These people are indeed fools in God’s sight.  They are foolishly frittering their lives away, never thinking they will one day meet a holy God and his wrath toward those who continually disobey him. 

Are you wise or foolish?


Romans 1:21 

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

There are people who say they believe in God, especially as they look at creation, but they do not honor him by doing what he tells them to do.  Nor do they ever give thanks to him for all he has provided.  Continual thanksgiving to God and obedience to his demands are two proofs you believe God exists.

Over time, though, people futilely moved away from God in their thinking.  Their thoughts began to dwell on things of this world rather than their Creator.  Over time, their hearts became foolish.  A fool is someone who doesn’t see the reality of God and desire to seek and obey him.  Over time, their hearts became darkened, concentrating on self rather than the God who gives light.

Is this you?  You can become wise and start seeking God today.  Do so by giving thanks to him.  Honor him by your obedience to his will.  Receive his eternal life and light into your dark heart. 

You’ll never regret it.


Romans 1:20

"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they are without excuse.”

The invisible attributes of God are inextricably and visibly woven into the world.  We see his divine power and nature as Creator in the world in which we live.  The visible world points to the invisible God.  His existence is clear.  His divine nature is obvious. 

Therefore, all people everywhere are without excuse.  At the final judgment, all will be held accountable for their belief in God.  Everyone should believe because of creation.

Where there is creation, there must be a Creator.  Where there is design, there must be a divine Designer. 

Worship your Creator today!


Romans 1:19

“For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them.” 

The evidence of God’s existence is obvious.  It’s all around us.  It’s been shown to us.  By living in God’s creation, it should be obvious to everyone that there is a God.

Do you doubt the existence of God?  How can you?  Look around you!  It’s clear and obvious.

That’s Paul’s point in the verse.


Romans 1:18 

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

Few like to think about the wrath of God.  Yet it’s a consistent Biblical theme.  God hates sin.  It’s a holy offense to him.  He must judge all ungodliness and unrighteousness.  Or he is not good.  He is not just.  He can’t be God.

The source of all human unrighteousness is our selfish, wicked hearts that suppress the truth.  Absolute, moral truth of God’s existence and oversight is all around us.  It’s clear in nature.  It’s clear in our consciences.  But we suppress this truth to live as we desire.  

If people continue to suppress truth and live in unrighteousness, one day, Paul says, they will face the wrath of God.

It’s a sobering truth.


Romans 1:17

“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.” 

In the gospel we see how to be righteous, accepted before God.  It comes through faith, by simply believing it is true and receiving it as a free gift from God.  It has to be by faith.  The only other alternative is works and no one can ever do enough to be be righteous before a holy God. 

Habakkuk 2:4 says the righteous will live by faith.  Hundreds of years before Paul ever noted it, he had an echo from God’s throne through the written word from Habakkuk, to his heart, about faith being the key to righteousness.

Do you believe the gospel is true?  Are you still trying to work for God’s pleasure, approval and acceptance?


I’ve always found it odd that many people wait until December 31st at midnight to begin anew.  It’s as if Americans think then and only then can they start over.

Then what happens on January 2nd when we speak an angry word at our spouse?  Or think an evil, vile thought?  Or return to a bad habit?  Do we have to wait another 363 days before we can begin again?

Of course not!  For those who find their lives in Christ, we know every day is a new day.  We know that every hour is an opportunity for a fresh start.  Every minute is a chance to forgive and be forgiven.

That’s the power of the gospel.  It is an inward, transformative power of God’s love.  It makes all things new (Revelation 21:1).  It means we are new creations in Christ, the old having passed away, the new having come (2 Corinthians 5:17).  This truth is not just to be claimed once a year but is an ever-flowing, never-ceasing fountain of God’s grace and mercy within.

Have you begun your new year and already sullied your soul?  Don’t despair.  Return to that fountain of God’s grace and mercy.  Drink anew.  Be cleansed anew. 

Yes, you don’t deserve it.  Nor do I.  That’s why it’s called grace.  It’s receiving what we don’t deserve.

And it is God’s great gift to his beloved.  And it will always be greater than our sin.


Romans 1:16

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

The gospel is not only to be believed but believers should never be ashamed of it.  For anyone who believes in it, it’s the very power of God to bring eternity to our souls.  But it’s also God’s power to set us free from all other idols, all other addictions, that capture our hearts.

The gospel of grace was first given to the Jews through Jesus.  But it’s also a free gift to the Greeks, all non-Jews.  Bottom line, the gospel is for every human being everywhere.

The gospel cost Paul years of imprisonment and eventual death. 

Are you ashamed of the gospel?  Are you embarrassed to let people know that you are a totally devoted follower of Jesus?


Romans 1:15  

“So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”

Paul’s vision and passion from Jesus was to preach the gospel throughout the world, to the Greeks and Barbarians, to the wise and foolish, everyone, everywhere (vs. 14).

But he knew he needed to begin locally before he could begin this mission globally.  He wanted to come to Rome and preach to the gospel to them.  That’s where he wanted to begin.

It's a good example for us too.  Yes, we need to be global Christians.  We need to be aware of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide who have never heard the name of Jesus (there are 400 million in India alone).  Our prayers and giving need to reflect this knowledge.  

But our heart for the gospel needs to begin in the city where we live.  What about my next door neighbor?  My office mate?  My family members?  My closest friends? 

Concerning the gospel, think globally.  But act locally.

That was Paul’s encouragement to all of us today.


Romans 1:14

“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish.”

Paul had a call upon his life.  He was appointed to be an apostle by Jesus himself.  He knew our Lord wanted him to take the Gospel throughout all the world. 

He was “under obligation” to do so.  Taking the Gospel to all the world was not an option.  The moment he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, Paul knew what he had to do.  He knew the “Greeks” needed to hear the Gospel.  These were the people who spoke Greek and had adopted the Greek culture in the Roman Empire.  The “barbarians” were those outside the Greek culture, including those outside the Roman Empire.  The “wise” are the educated class.  The “foolish” are the uneducated.  These terms basically describe everyone in the world. 

Paul was under obligation to take the Gospel throughout all the world.

Do you have this similar heartbeat?  If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, it’s not an option for you (and me).  We too are “under obligation” from our Lord to take the Gospel into the world, both locally and globally.

Is this your passion?  If not, why not?


Romans 1:13 

“I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles.”

Paul had wanted to visit the Roman Christians previously, to teach and encourage them with the gospel, but had been prevented from doing so.  Deeply, he yearned to see a spiritual harvest among the Roman Gentiles.

Why was he prevented from visiting Rome?  Was it the evil one who hindered him?  Or the Holy Spirit?  We don’t really know.  He doesn’t tell us.

But what we do know is that any dream, desire, wish we may have is under God’s perfect plan.  We know God’s timing is perfect.  If we are presently being prevented from something we want, we trust God.  We trust his timing.  We trust his perfect will.

After all, Acts 28 tells us Paul did physically visit Rome.  Later, he did receive the privilege of “reaping the harvest” among Roman Gentiles.  It just wasn’t in God's timing when he wrote this letter to the Roman Christians.

Trust the Lord today in his perfect timing for all your life’s desires.  Wait patiently for him.  His plan is perfect.  He knows what he is doing.


It’s not because he went to UNC and bled Carolina blue, as I do, that I admire him.

It’s not because we both graduated from the same Communications Department at UNC, which we did, that I admire him.

It’s not because he loved sports, and I love sports, that I admire him.

It’s not because he was one of the most innovative, creative and hip sportscasters ever (which I’m not!) that I admire him.

It’s not because he loved his kids passionately, as I do mine, that I admire him.

Don’t misunderstand.  I do like all these things about Stuart Scott.  But I admire him for something totally different.

His courage.  Courage isn’t blindly moving into the future without any emotion.  Courage is clearly knowing what you are facing, all the painful obstacles, all the testy trials, all the foreboding diagnoses, yet still choosing to move forward and face them.

His perseverance.  He wouldn’t give up.  He persevered.  He continued to live knowing the cancer was gnawing away his insides.  But he wouldn’t let the disease conquer his joie de vivre.  He courageously persevered through each day, living it to the full.

I’ll miss Stuart Scott.  So will the sports and broadcasting world.  There will never be another like him.

Especially, I’ll always admire Stuart Scott.  He’s one of a kind.  His life is one I’d like to emulate.

Thanks for living life the way you did, Stuart!

I know you’d want me to say this: “Go Heels!"


Romans 1:12

“—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”

In verse 11, Paul said he wanted to come to Rome and impart spiritual gifts to them.  When they used them, Paul said, they would be “strengthened.”  Their faith would grow.  They’d be operating in God’s purpose for their lives.

But something else would happen, Paul said.  His own faith would be encouraged.  Indeed, there would be mutual encouragement!

I know what Paul is talking about.  My call is to preach and teach God’s Word and his gospel.  When I see people come to faith and use God’s gifts he’s given them, through my gifts, to serve a dying world, my heart is encouraged.  I feel my call is validated.  My heart is encouraged.

For all of you who are using God’s gifts for his glory, in some way because of how God has used me in your life, thank you!  You’ve encouraged my faith walk today!


Romans 1:11

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—“

If you love Jesus and have decided to follow him, you’ve been given a spiritual gift.  Most often this spiritual gift is found in what you naturally enjoy doing.

What is yours?  You need to find it and use it to build up the Body of Christ.  Jesus would not have given you this gift unless it was needed to make his church stronger.

But don’t miss this truth from Paul: the discovery and exercising of your spiritual gift is meant also “to strengthen you.”  When you flow in God’s spiritual gifts to you, you are strengthened.  You are encouraged.  Why?  Because you are flowing in God’s purposes for your life.  You are doing what you were made to do!

Find your spiritual gift.  Use it for God’s glory.  The church is made stronger.  So are you.


Romans 1:10

“…always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you.”

From yesterday, in verse 9, we see that Paul couldn’t stop praying for the Roman Christians.  He loved and admired them deeply.  Therefore, he continued to pray for them.

For some time, Paul desired to come personally to the church at Rome.  Previously, for many different reasons, he had been prevented from doing so.  But he saw a window now where this may be possible.  Indeed, the last chapter in the book of Acts shows this dream coming true.  

Are there Christians to whom you could go and encourage their faith?  You don’t have to leave the city in which you live to do so.  They probably live next door.  You can encourage them through your prayers.  You can encourage them by going to them and letting them know you are praying for them.

Make a commitment to do so today.


Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet?  If not, let me give you a piece of advice: don’t!

Yes, you heard me correctly.  Don’t do them.  Why?  They are fruitless.  They eventually fade.  Ultimately you stop doing them.

I Corinthians 15:56 says, “The power of sin is the law.”  What does that mean?  It means the more you try to obey God’s law, the more you increase the power within you to disobey it.  The more you make resolutions in your own strength, the more you are doomed not to keep them.

You don’t believe it?  What happens in your heart when you see a sign that says, “Wet paint, don’t touch.”  Or “Don’t walk on the grass.”  Be honest.  Isn’t there something deep within you that desires to touch the wet paint?  To walk on the grass?

That’s the power of sin within us.  It’s exacerbated by the law.  Being told not to do something intrinsically within makes us want to do it.

It’s the same with New Year’s resolutions.

How then should we approach the New Year?  Daily.  Sincerely pray, “Lord Jesus, give me this day, my daily bread.”  Trust him with every second of today. Live today to the full, as you know it should be lived.  Eat well.  Exercise your body.  You don’t get another one until heaven!  Think God’s thoughts throughout today.  Love your neighbor today.  Be faithful with your words today.

Then let today become tomorrow.  And tomorrow become the next day.  Then, over time, you will find a life disciplined and holy before our Lord.

That’s the best New Year’s resolution you can make: live only for today!  After all, Jesus said tomorrow has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).


Romans 1:9

“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you”

Paul makes God as his witness for what he’s about to write and say.  He wants the Almighty to hold him accountable for what he’s about to write and say.  Are we similarly aware that God oversees all we write and say?

Also, Paul’s service for Jesus is rooted deeply within his spirit.  He had been transformed from the inside/out, by the power of the gospel of God’s Son, Jesus.

And he couldn’t stop talking about the Romans!  Probably to other Christians around the world.  But also in his prayers.  Paul was proud of how they loved and served Jesus in the church at Rome.  Like a proud Daddy, he couldn’t stop talking about them!

Would Paul say the same about you and your service to Jesus?