Romans 3:9-24 (NRSV)

9 What then? Are we any better off? a No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin,

10 as it is written: “There is no one who is righteous, not even one;

11 there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one.”
13 “Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of vipers is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery are in their paths,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.
20 For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
21 But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets,
22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ b for all who believe. For there is no distinction,
23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
24 they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Titus 3:5 (NRSV)

5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water a of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.                            

DEVOTION – Cassius Rhue (South Carolina)

In high school I was driving through down town when a sudden flash of blue light and the crisp, piercing sound of a siren interrupted the evening.  Suddenly, I was pulled over by a local police officer who cited me for speeding.  When it came time to appear before the judge, I sat in the courtroom and contemplated how I would answer the officer’s charge.  I knew I was innocent of speeding, but I was guilty of carelessly running a red light.

When the time came, I stood before the judge and asked for leniency.  The judge didn’t dismiss the charge, but he drastically reduced the penalties, freeing me to continue enjoying the privilege of driving and the summer money I had earned.

When I think about this incident, I am reminded of how foolish it would be for us to argue with God that we are innocent of a particular sin, knowing how guilty we are of so many others.  Wouldn’t it be better for us all to ask for God’s mercy and freedom to enjoy the privilege of relationship and the joy of life everlasting?

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God is merciful and hears my cries for grace.

PRAYER: Loving God, thank you for your mercy and grace.  Help us to daily confess our sins and receive your forgiveness.  Amen.