Romans Devotional

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Day 4 - What Idolatry Looks Like

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Reading: Romans 1:22-23

Reflective Thoughts

What idolatry looks like

UCLA basketball coach John Wooden warned his players about the danger and foolishness of conceit. Both Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Walton heard his warnings: "Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

In our reading today, Paul describes what happened when man was not careful to be humble. Self-professed wisdom is really foolishness because God is the only source of wisdom, not self. It leads to foolish behavior because even the most conceited heart needs something greater than itself to fill it. So the self-professed "wise" person looks to satisfy his needs in things apart from God (Jeremiah 2:13). Isaiah 44:9-20 provides a graphic depiction: a man fashions an idol from the same wood with which he heats his home and cooks his food-and then he bows down and worships the idol that he made with his own hands and calls it his god.

This, we may think, is an ancient issue-not a problem for the 21st century believer. There is no temptation to melt our Silpada jewelry in the saucepan and form a golden calf to worship. However we may have our own form of modern idols. Could we, like Wooden's players, be tempted to worship our own success? What do our calendars tell us about how we choose to spend the bulk of our time? What do our checkbook ledgers say about where we spend our money? What do we worship?

Day 3 - How to Fight Futile Thinking

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Reading: Romans 1: 18-21

Reflective Thoughts

How to fight futile thinking

We know that God is a God of love, mercy and grace. But sometimes we forget that God is also a holy God. If He loves what is right, He must hate what is wrong. What God hates is ungodliness, which simply means anything that is not of His nature. He also hates unrighteousness, which is anything that violates God's laws. These two things, Scripture says come from men who suppress or hold back the truth about who God is. These Scriptures tell us that God made Himself known through the things He created. And yet men (and women) chose to turn away and not to honor Him or be thankful. The result was purposeless thinking and hearts that could no longer recognize the truth. As a result, ungodliness and unrighteousness have a heyday!

Who are these people and how can we stop them? The fact is, these people are all of us, without the grace of God revealing His righteousness to us (Romans 1:17). We stop "them," by acknowledging Him as God; revering Him and thanking Him. Want to protect yourself from futile thinking and foolishness? Psalm 37:4 tells us to choose to delight ourselves in the Lord. When we do this, God puts desires in our hearts-good desires, and the greatest one is Him!