Before reading your passage today, take a deep breath, relax, open your heart to what God wants to say to you through His word, and pray this simple prayer from the Psalms: show me your way, teach me your path, guide me in your truth.
Passage for today: Romans 5
Quick backstory of Romans before we jump in, so we’re all on the same page. Romans is a series of letters to the early church in Rome (see that connection: Romans--->Rome) by a guy named Paul. Paul is one amazing dude. He was one of the very first church planters and is pretty much like the OG pastor, writing most of the New Testament (the second half of your Bible) in these letters to all the churches that he helped start. These letters are so important and helpful to us because they were written to people just like us--people who are far from God and don’t deserve His grace and love but are recipients of it anyway. They give instructions about how to live, how to change, how to know God and how to interact with each other.
(Fun Fact: Some of his other letters are 1 & 2 Corinthians (to the church at Corinth), Galatians (to the church in the province of Galatia), Ephesians (to the church in Ephesus), Phillipians (to the church in the city of Philippi), Colossians (to the church in Colossae), 1 & 2 Thessalonians (to the church in Thessalonica--see the thread?), and 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (to....well, some guys named Timothy, Titus and Philemon.) But, all of these letters are for US too and are, “God-breathed and useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction and for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16.)
We’re going to take a deeper dive in the next few days into this letter, so don’t worry if at first you read through it and feel like you have no idea what it’s talking about. Honestly, I hope you’re still figuring things out and discovering new things about this passage long after this challenge is over, but if there is one thing for us to grab ahold of today, it’s this: because of Jesus, we have ACCESS.
Have you ever wanted to do something but you couldn’t because you didn’t have access? Maybe you wanted to go skiing, but you lived in Kansas. No access to snow. Maybe you wanted to go backstage to meet Justin Timberlake, but your nosebleed-section tickets didn’t come with a backstage pass. No access to JT. Maybe you JUST closed your eyes for a nap and your toddler (or teenager) was like, “nope!” and suddenly you lost access to your mind.
Or maybe you’ve wanted a deep connection in a friendship like everyone else seems to have, but whenever you try, it just seems like everyone says, “no access.” Maybe you wanted to get into a program or a school or a new job, but the results came back, “no access.” Maybe you wanted to have a relationship with your father, but he was always distant and distracted. No access. Maybe you have something in your life that you want to change, an addiction that you want to let go of, a habit that you want to break, but every time you reach out to grab healing, for some reason you have no access. Maybe you need rest or hope or connection or love and it just feels like you have no access.
Here’s the great news. Paul says in Romans 5:2 that, “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” And that is the theme of this whole chapter: that because of Jesus we have ACCESS to God, and because we have access to God, we no longer have to go through life like people without access!!
And because of our access to God, we have access to hope, love, joy, peace. We don’t need to be afraid because we have access to a God who is mighty to save. We don’t need to live like prisoners; we have access to a God who has set us free. We don’t have to be alone, we have access to a God who will NEVER leave or forsake us. Because of Jesus, we have access to everything we need.
Access to God is granted to us not because we are good, but because God is. We can stop living like we don’t have permission to sit at the table; because of Jesus, we are actually honored guests at the feast. Today, we celebrate the foundation of what we’ll be learning the next few weeks: because of Christ, we have access to live transformed.
God, today, remind me that I have access to you, not because of what I’ve done, but because of what your Son Jesus has done for me. It’s amazing to me that the same God who has a name for every star in the universe and came up with the idea for photosynthesis and can measure out the solar system with a ruler--this same God knows every hair on my head. Thank you for knowing me and my deepest needs. Thank you for giving me access to you.
At some point today, arrive five minutes early for pick up or class or a meeting or wherever you’re usually headed in a rush. When you get there, sit in your car and be still. Ask God to show up in that moment and show you that He is present and that you have access to his presence--even on a busy day when you don’t have much time; He always has time for you, take it!
(See if you can commit to memory, or commit to remember, this verse this week.)
“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Romans 5:5, NLT)