February 12, 2018

Knowledge Demands Faithfulness

Romans 3:1–4

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God's Righteousness Upheld

Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,

  “That you may be justified in your words,
    and prevail when you are judged.”

Knowledge Demands Faithfulness

Bio | Sarah Whittingslow

Hey there! I'm Sarah.

I was born and raised in Georgia, but made my way over to Texas about a year-and-a-half ago. I'm a proud graduate of The University of Georgia (Go, Dawgs) and will be graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary in May. I'm a recovering perfectionist who now champions the freedom and grace found only through a relationship with Christ. You can find me in Starting Blocks (Watermark's ministry for newborns through pre-schoolers), chatting with friends over coffee, or watching the latest Disney movie. I am truly grateful for Watermark and the family that it has provided for me.

Central Truth

It is a privilege to know the Word of God. Will you act faithfully with the knowledge with which you've been entrusted?

Devotional | Romans 3:1–4

It was the middle of finals week, and the weather seemed to match the mood of every college student. Rain poured down; but between study sessions, I decided to dash to Chick-fil-A for dinner.

A homeless...

It was the middle of finals week, and the weather seemed to match the mood of every college student. Rain poured down; but between study sessions, I decided to dash to Chick-fil-A for dinner.

A homeless man stood on the side of the road. I didn't know his story, but what was obvious was that he was getting very wet. I had an umbrella in my trunk, but to give it to him I was going to have to inconvenience myself by parking my car and bringing it to him. For some reason, generosity felt like a great burden. The Word of God is clear, however, on helping others and displaying Christ's love. (Hebrews 6:10; John 15:12)

I settled on the stipulation that if I got my food and he was still standing there, I'd park and bring him my umbrella. After receiving my order, I circled the building and pulled into a parking spot about 20 feet from him. Before I could even unbuckle, however, I witnessed a clear display of the love of Christ. Another college student pulled over, took the rain jacket off his own back, and without a second thought handed it to the man.

I could not help but cry out of my deep conviction. While I chose to drag my feet, the Lord used someone who was willing to be obedient. The Lord faithfully accomplished His will, even though I missed the opportunity to be a part of it. It turns out that I'm not too different from the Jewish people Paul is addressing. They knew the promises and commands of God, but failed to live up to God's standards. God entrusted them with His oracles (verse 2), but they were unfaithful.

Thank you, God, for Your faithfulness. Even though I fail to act faithfully, You will not fail. You are faithful to accomplish what You have spoken. Knowing Your Word is a great privilege. I pray that we would not be satisfied in just knowing Your Word, but that we would be moved to action for Your glory. Amen.

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Discussion Questions

1. The Jewish people knew the promises of God, but they still engaged in sinful conduct. What areas of your own life are you tempted to promote toward sin instead of total surrender to God?

2. The lack of faith displayed by the Jewish people did not make God turn back on His promises to them. When have you seen the Lord's faithfulness in your life despite your own unfaithfulness?

3. We have been given instruction on how to conduct our lives through the Word of God. How can we live that out today?

20 Comments available

Jeremy Garrett about 1 year ago

Sarah, thank you for being transparent and honest–it convicted me which became a great encouragement to ask Him for compassion for others when I in my selfishness may not be. I’ve too struggled with these scenarios and have always sought to grow in wisdom from Him on how best to respond to future opportunities. We know from John 16:24 that if we ask Jesus for the ability to love others in all circumstances that He will surely provide

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

@Sue Bohlin. I will have to wait till next year for 45th since the end of freshman year at University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana

Jen Hawkins about 1 year ago

Sweet Sarah. What a gift to see your smile and read about how God is working in your life. Thanks so much for the story you shared and I love to hear how God is moving in you. So glad there are always more opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ; I’ve seen you do that plenty of times around the SB area. Great job and keep it up friend! You’re great at it!!!

Alma Barber about 1 year ago

My plans for holiness, usually only last until I put my feet on the floor. I can’t produce good fruit, if I have rotten roots(Matthew 12:33). I won’t be known Buy my good intentions-but by my fruit. Is there any hope for me? Thankfully, yes, says Paul. Thank God for Jesus! For his grace and his faithfulness. For equipping me to do what I can’t do for myself. May that extend to others. May I be known for my resemblance to my Father. May I be a doer of his word -and not just a hearer. I love your prayer Sarah. Thank you for your encouragement today. I’m always encouraged by everyone’s comments also.

“We are the Bibles the world is reading; We are the creeds the world is needing; We are the sermons the world is heeding.”-Billy Graham

Jake King about 1 year ago

Great Devo! Thanks for sharing and encouraging me.

Lisa Olsen about 1 year ago

Thank you for your honesty, Sarah. You are not alone in having experienced the regret of not taking an opportunity to show the love of Christ. But honestly, what a gift to have been shown this. Even if you missed the opportunity, the Lord, in His great love for you, showed you the truth about the situation. You will likely always remember that going forward. Thank you for your transparency this morning friend.

Joel Holyoak about 1 year ago

Thanks for the story. Thinking of Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Sometimes it is difficult to be discerning on who is for real and who might be working the system. I too miss chances to help. Causes me to think how to do better the next time.

greg jones about 1 year ago

Not enough words to include this thought with my comment. Sometimes God uses strangers or people we know who we would never expect him to use in his faithfulness to teach us.

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

Another example is Hiel of Bethlehem where God accomplished His purpose using the failures of men. Isaiah 46:10

God made Jericho and the fallen walls a monument for His glory to everyone entering the promised land. Everyone seeing the fallen walls would ask what happened and hear the story and Joshua had a curse on anyone who might rebuild Jericho. Josh 6:26

No one rebuilt until the days of Ahab and Jezebel and an entrepreneurial type named Hiel of Bethlehem who had a real estate development plan that went terribly wrong. Rebuilt Jericho. His kids died. God made a statement for His glory whether man was faithful or not. 1 Kings 16:34

Ronnie Oldfield about 1 year ago

Thank God it’s Monday!!! Gosh Sarah, how did you know what Todd was going to teach us on Feb 11th when you were writing this last fall?? When my faithfulness in spiritual disciplines is high, my eyes and ears are more alert to spot faithfulness opportunities. Similarly my feet, hands and lips are more inclined to spring into action. Thank God, He keeps no score card-“For while I was still a sinner Christ died for me”-this I know. For each opportunity I respond to, surely there are 99 I did not. Memo to Holy Spirit - tutor me well, I desperately seek to be an “A” student. Without You abiding with me, I will Be in remedial faithfulness forever. Please Holy Spirit, live through me!! Thank you Sarah for a timely Monday Devotional.

Todd Shaddock about 1 year ago

Great Devo! I love the simple example you gave brings home the point of the text. The question really help me think outside the box as well. Thank you!

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

A person may be part of God’s work achieving His purpose even with man’s failures. Isaiah 46:10

Example: I was thinking of the prophets in 1 King 13 One was sent to king Jeroboam (the guy who started as chief contractor for Solomon’s worship center, but became king of the Northern kingdom and made two worship centers with idols). The first prophet told Jeroboam someone named after Jeroboam would arise and wreck the alters burn the bones of the pagan priests 1 Kings 13:2.

Get’s weird. A second prophet is in the account who lies. The first believes the lie and dies. 1 Kings 13:26 In the end the first prophet was buried and his burial place became a monument for what God said. Even with the failures God made a monument for His glory making a statement to Israel until fulfilled 2 Kings 23:15 God’s words proved true.

greg jones about 1 year ago

In verse 4 Paul references Psalms 51:4. Verses 12 and 13 of chapter 51 say, “grant me a willing spirit to sustain me, then I will teach transgressors your ways.” I think that verse probably already applied to that stranger. The rest of us needed the verses of 16 and 17 to have a deeper meaning.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; My sacrifice oh God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

That needs to come first, then, verse 19 becomes more than just the word we have,

“Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous.”

It becomes the Word within us. Thank you for your gift, the story of a broken spirit and contrite heart, in this devotional today.

Trey Collins about 1 year ago

God’s faithfulness is the reason for hope. His promises never fail! God is not a man that He should lie or need to repent, what He has said He will do. Thank you Jesus!

Christopher Hyland about 1 year ago

Good morning Sarah Great reminder today of the faithfulness of God even when I constantly fall short. Your story really hits a chord…how many times I have had the same conversation in my head. May I be the hands and feet of God today. Praying that like Sunday’s message as I worship God in my vocation today I will do so for His Glory and be an example of who He is

Hope Harris about 1 year ago

“For what if some did not believe?” “What if some do not believe?”

Spurgeon states that this passage is a: “A sorrowful reminder and A horrible inference.”

The reminder is some will not believe! Does that mean I should stop sharing the gospel or praying for my non-believing friends? I think not, because while some will reject the gift of salvation others will freely accept it.

The Horrible inference is that unbelief makes faith in God, and His faithfulness, altogether without effect.

That took my breath away. Unbelief cannot nullify the nature and character of God. He remains the same. Additionally, another person’s unbelief does not void belief or faith in God.

Unbelief cannot and should not diminish the power of the gospel and stop believers from sharing it with others.

Mike Frizzell about 1 year ago

Agreed. Great example of God being at work and the only question is, “Will you be a part of it?” Excellent illustration of the passage.

@Sue, Happy Birthday!

Sue Bohlin about 1 year ago

POWERFUL illustration, Sarah. As we Thank God It’s Monday and look for ways to glorify God in our work today, your devo is a great reminder that one key to doing that is just pre-deciding to obey when the Holy Spirit nudges and directs.

Today is my 45th spiritual birthday. I am overflowing with gratitude for God’s graciousness in calling me to Himself and for the huge grace-gift of being included in His life! I remember as a college sophomore, wondering how long the euphoria of my new life would last. Turns out, it just kept getting better, deeper, and richer!

Hugh Stephenson about 1 year ago

With what does God entrust me? What “oracles” (truths?) has He given me to use to build His kingdom? Will the people that know me or observe me see in me the faithfulness of God? Will I use the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist to help live out my life for Him? Will I so fully embrace His righteousness & truths that I am convicted of my sins and will respond to loving correction?

He has given me a covenant relationship with Amy, three adult children, a great community group, recovery ministry leadership, a work team and clients. He calls me to faithfulness in these relationships - especially, to tell them that my failings & sins do not affect His truth, to tell them that only God is righteous & all will be judged. Any authority and wisdom I have is from Him alone.

Michael Scaman about 1 year ago

One example of how God worked despite unfaithfulness is Rom 3:2 which says the Jews were ‘entrusted with the oracles of God.’ Although they were imperfect people, although often faithless, as people are, God was faithful and the word of God was passed down and preserved through them.

Sinclair Ferguson says the advantage of the Jew is being given God’s word, but that privilege doesn’t absolve one from obeying it as in Amos 3:2

Al Mohler points out the word oracles emphasizes ‘a God who speaks.’ God has spoken to the Jews, which is a great privilege.

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