Mom, I will miss you! I look forward to seeing you again!
Vivian Eloise Culver (01/17/1930 - 02-25-2015)
Romans 11:25–36 (ESV)
The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation
25 Lest you be wise
in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies
for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,
31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
33 Oh, the depth
of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
I want to focus on verse 26 &
27. Israel has rejected Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Are they lost? Can they be saved? Paul points to the answer as yes... only if they continue in their “unbelief” v23! This is crucial to John 3:16 which states:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Eternal life hinges on belief as states “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
It is not based on being a good person. It is not based on your actions. It is not based on whether or not you have ever hurt someone, killed someone, or walked enough old ladies across the street. You cannot buy Salvation. You cannot
earn Salvation. Salvation is a gift. This applies to us today! Do you believe?
Today was a special day for me because my mother died at 3:00 PM. She was a believer.
She has been baptized and justified in the faith that God gave her. She has embraced the gift of faith given her and trusted in the Lord. So Paul’s question... can Israel be saved? Only if they continue in their “unbelief.”
I pray: O Lord, take good care of my mother and I pray for all my family and friends who will be working their way to Shreveport. I give thanks to my mom for taking me to church, having me baptized, and
raising me in His Word. Thank you Mom, and thank you Lord Jesus! Amen.
Romans 11:11–24 (ESV)
Gentiles Grafted In
So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for
the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14 in order somehow to make my fellow
Jews jealous, and thus save some of them. 15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead? 16 If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy,
so are the branches.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not
be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because
of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but
God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from
what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.
ministry is to the Gentiles, he still wants the Jews to be saved too. He warns the Gentile believers to never look down on nonbelievers. It is our hope that all unbelievers to be saved. That will not happen, but it is God that changes hearts.
He likens it to grafting a plant. You take an existing plant (a non-believer) and cut off the stalk and graft in another plant. The plant did not ask for this, but it was someone who did the cutting and grafting to the plant that “changed”
the plant. It is God that takes our sinful bodies and grafts His Word to us that we are “changed” and are now believers. We cannot do this on our own, it is God who does the grafting. God can restore to faith those who have fallen.
I pray: O Lord, be merciful to all those who have drifted away from You, especially family members and friends. Graft them in again by Your Word and grace. Amen.
Romans 11:1–10 (ESV)
The Remnant of Israel
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals
to God against Israel? 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” 4 But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not
bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written,
“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that would not see
and ears that would not hear,
to this very day.”
9 And David says,
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see,
and bend their backs forever.”
Paul, chosen by God’s grace revealed in Jesus Christ, is a living example that God has preserved for Himself a remnant in Israel. Those who become hardened
and spiritually callous are in danger of God’s frightening judgment. However, through the suffering for sin that Christ endured, even the sin of unbelief is forgiven in those who trust in His grace.
pray: O Lord, may the physical descendants of Abraham receive the promised salvation delivered in the Gospel of Jesus. Amen.
Romans 10:18–21 (ESV)
The Message of Salvation to All (Part 3)
18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”
19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.
Today’s reading is a continuation of yesterdays
reading. The Lutheran Study Bible states: “Like a loving father waiting for his children to come home, God yearns to show mercy on all (cf Lk 15:11–32). Those who refuse to accept God’s gracious invitation to share in the riches of
His grace are accountable to Him for their unbelief. However, Christ Jesus is always near to us in His Word. He stands ready to forgive and renew us.
I pray: We praise You, O Lord, for welcoming us
through the words of all those who bring to us the Good News of Your love. Place that faith-creating Word on our lips, that we may speak to those who have not yet heard or believed. Amen.
Romans 10:14–17 (ESV)
The Message of Salvation to All
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written,
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the
word of Christ.
This passage is always humbling to me because I am a pastor. I don’t like seeking self praise, but I do want to praise God. I don’t seek special treatment and put
my self below my flock. I am here to serve God and my flock.
Today’s reading focuses on pastors. Paul is teaching the importance of the preached Word. By God’s design, faith is
created through the Means of Grace... that is through God’s Word. Whether it comes by hearing the preached Word, reading Word of God, or receiving the Word through Baptism or the Lord’s Supper. I don’t think my feet are beautiful,
but I do give thanks for each day that I get up and can share the Word of God. There are some that will think that they themselves create their faith, but this is not so. Verse 17 states “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the
word of Christ.”
I pray: O Lord, help me to preach the Word in truth and purity. I pray that the Holy Spirit works through the Word to convict and convert the lost through the preached Word.
Faith is a gift from God. Amen.