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Today’s Reading

Devotional

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR Christians to be “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37)? A considerable body of thought pictures a special group of illustrious Christians who “live above it all,” powerful in confronting temptation, victorious in their prayer lives, fruitful in their witness, mature and faithful in their relationships. And none of that is what the text says.

First, the “us” to whom the apostle refers includes all Christians. All Christians are the ones whom God has foreknown, “predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son,” called, justified, glorified (Rom. 8:29–30). The people referred to are not the elite of the elect; they are ordinary Christians, all genuine Christians.

Second, the actual evidence that they are “more than conquerors” is that they persevere regardless of all opposition. That opposition may take the form of horrible persecution, of the kind that Scripture describes (Rom. 8:35–38). It may be some other hardship, all the way to famine. The glories of life will not finally seduce them; the terrors of death will not finally sway them; neither the pressures of the present nor the frustrations of the future will destroy them (Rom. 8:38). Neither human powers nor anything else in all creation, not even all the powers of hell unleashed, can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).

Third, as the last sentence already makes clear, that from which Christians cannot be finally separated is the “love of Christ” (Rom. 8:35) or the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:39). At one level, of course, that is simply saying that no power can stop Christians from being Christians. That is why we are “more than conquerors.” But that point could have been made a lot of different ways. To make it this way, with an emphasis on the love of Christ as that from which we cannot be separated, reminds us of the sheer glory and pleasure that is ours, both now and in eternity, to be in such a relationship. We are not simply acquitted; we are loved. We are loved not simply by a peer, but by God himself. Nor is this a reference to the general love that God has for his entire creation. What is at stake here is that special love that attaches to “all who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Fourth, the guarantee that we shall prevail and persevere, and prove to be “more than conquerors” in this sense, is nothing other than the sovereign purposes of God (Rom. 8:29–30), manifest in the death of his Son on our behalf (Rom. 8:31–35). “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:32). No greater security is imaginable.

1 Samuel 10

Saul Anointed King

10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince1 over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the LORD and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. And this shall be the sign to you that the LORD has anointed you to be prince2 over his heritage. When you depart from me today, you will meet two men by Rachel's tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah, and they will say to you, ‘The donkeys that you went to seek are found, and now your father has ceased to care about the donkeys and is anxious about you, saying, “What shall I do about my son?”’ Then you shall go on from there farther and come to the oak of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall accept from their hand. After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim,3 where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying. Then the Spirit of the LORD will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. Then go down before me to Gilgal. And behold, I am coming down to you to offer burnt offerings and to sacrifice peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, until I come to you and show you what you shall do.”

When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came to Gibeah,4 behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12 And a man of the place answered, “And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.

14 Saul's uncle said to him and to his servant, “Where did you go?” And he said, “To seek the donkeys. And when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 And Saul's uncle said, “Please tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 And Saul said to his uncle, “He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found.” But about the matter of the kingdom, of which Samuel had spoken, he did not tell him anything.

Saul Proclaimed King

17 Now Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah. 18 And he said to the people of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your thousands.”

20 Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot;5 and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. 22 So they inquired again of the LORD, “Is there a man still to come?” and the LORD said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” 23 Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the LORD. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home. 26 Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.

Footnotes

[1] 10:1 Or leader
[2] 10:1 Septuagint; Hebrew lacks over his people Israel? And you shall. . . . to be prince
[3] 10:5 Gibeath-elohim means the hill of God
[4] 10:10 Gibeah means the hill
[5] 10:21 Septuagint adds finally he brought the family of the Matrites near, man by man

(ESV)

Romans 8

Life in the Spirit

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.1 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you2 free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,3 he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus4 from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers,5 we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons6 of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because7 the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,8 for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God's Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be9 against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.10 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

  “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Footnotes

[1] 8:1 Some manuscripts add who walk not according to the flesh (but according to the Spirit)
[2] 8:2 Some manuscripts me
[3] 8:3 Or and as a sin offering
[4] 8:11 Some manuscripts lack Jesus
[5] 8:12 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 29
[6] 8:14 See discussion on “sons” in the Preface
[7] 8:27 Or that
[8] 8:28 Some manuscripts God works all things together for good, or God works in all things for the good
[9] 8:31 Or who is
[10] 8:34 Or Is it Christ Jesus who died . . . for us?

(ESV)

Jeremiah 47

Judgment on the Philistines

47:1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh struck down Gaza.

  “Thus says the LORD:
  Behold, waters are rising out of the north,
    and shall become an overflowing torrent;
  they shall overflow the land and all that fills it,
    the city and those who dwell in it.
  Men shall cry out,
    and every inhabitant of the land shall wail.
  At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions,
    at the rushing of his chariots, at the rumbling of their wheels,
  the fathers look not back to their children,
    so feeble are their hands,
  because of the day that is coming to destroy
    all the Philistines,
  to cut off from Tyre and Sidon
    every helper that remains.
  For the LORD is destroying the Philistines,
    the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor.
  Baldness has come upon Gaza;
    Ashkelon has perished.
  O remnant of their valley,
    how long will you gash yourselves?
  Ah, sword of the LORD!
    How long till you are quiet?
  Put yourself into your scabbard;
    rest and be still!
  How can it1 be quiet
    when the LORD has given it a charge?
  Against Ashkelon and against the seashore
    he has appointed it.”

Footnotes

[1] 47:7 Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew you

(ESV)

Psalms 23–24

The Lord Is My Shepherd

A Psalm of David.

23:1   The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
  He leads me beside still waters.1
    He restores my soul.
  He leads me in paths of righteousness2
    for his name's sake.
  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,3
    I will fear no evil,
  for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
  You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
  you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
  Surely4 goodness and mercy5 shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
  and I shall dwell6 in the house of the LORD
    forever.7

The King of Glory

A Psalm of David.

24:1   The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof,8
    the world and those who dwell therein,
  for he has founded it upon the seas
    and established it upon the rivers.
  Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
  He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false
    and does not swear deceitfully.
  He will receive blessing from the LORD
    and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
  Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob.9 Selah
  Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
  Who is this King of glory?
    The LORD, strong and mighty,
    the LORD, mighty in battle!
  Lift up your heads, O gates!
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    that the King of glory may come in.
10   Who is this King of glory?
    The LORD of hosts,
    he is the King of glory! Selah

Footnotes

[1] 23:2 Hebrew beside waters of rest
[2] 23:3 Or in right paths
[3] 23:4 Or the valley of deep darkness
[4] 23:6 Or Only
[5] 23:6 Or steadfast love
[6] 23:6 Or shall return to dwell
[7] 23:6 Hebrew for length of days
[8] 24:1 Or and all that fills it
[9] 24:6 Septuagint, Syriac, and two Hebrew manuscripts; Masoretic Text who seek your face, Jacob

(ESV)