Guest post by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Returning from a walk on New Year’s Day we happened upon our neighbor in her front yard, putting away Christmas decorations. She inquired about our holiday and whether we made any New Year’s resolutions. I confessed I hadn’t, simply because I’m old and know well where all those good resolutions end up. She agreed, but then said she would still try to tweak a couple things in her life. I smiled and thought, “Yes. And then next year you’ll probably hit rewind again.”
I love the thought of rewinding, of starting over. I’d love to have a new identity, to be the woman I always wanted to be. But alas, I’m 62, eligible for Social Security, a grandmother of 6, and the days of deciding what I’m going to be when I grow up are far past. Yet, every year, about this time there is a pernicious hope that this year will be different. This year I’m going to get it together and show God and everybody else that I really am better. And then, right around March 1st or so, I realize it’s not going to happen this year either.
Now you might wonder why I’m leading a group of people through what we’re calling Romans Reboot in the month of March. Let me tell you where I am (and am not) going:
First of all, I don’t believe in bootstrap progress. You can’t work yourself into a new you. Sure, you might lose weight or whiten your teeth or make a new list—but you can’t do heart transformation. Only the Lord can do that (Jeremiah 13:23).
Secondly, I do believe that time spent considering Scripture will transform your life through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is because the Spirit works in your heart, granting you faith to believe the incredible truth distilled there. It’s not because you’re finally becoming a better you. So we’ll begin our time praying that your reading will be mixed with faith. Because when faith intersects with the Word, there will be transformation.
Third, joining Reboot won’t make God love you more than he already does. You won’t earn Brownie points or merit badges. Why? Because if you’re a Christian, “all things are yours” already! (1 Corinthians 3:21) In fact, God loves you in the same way that he loves his dear Son (John 17:23). You’re already his Beloved (Romans 9:25). If, on the other hand, you’re not yet a believer, or if it’s been some time since you dared to believe he might still love you, then I do pray God will grant you faith to believe this wonderful message again.
What is the message I’m praying you’ll remember and believe? Nothing less than the gospel: that Jesus loved us so much that he gave himself to live perfectly and die wretchedly as a sinner in our place; that he rose again to break the power of sin in our lives by justifying and freeing us from the condemning demands of the Law; that all our sins are forgiven and we stand before him perfectly righteous. If you believe for the first time or find your heart rewarming to these truths during our study, then I’ll rejoice and so will all the angels in heaven.
Here’s your invitation: Join me in reading through Romans 1-8 in March. Why Romans? Because it’s a book Martin Luther described in this way:
We find in this letter, then, the richest possible teaching about what a Christian should know: the meaning of law, Gospel, sin, punishment, grace, faith, justice, Christ, God, good works, love, hope and the cross.
We’ll begin reading Romans 1-8 (two chapters per week) on Sunday, March 3rd and culminating on Sunday, March 31st—Easter! What a glorious way to enter into resurrection joy! If you care to, you can also pick up a copy of my newest book, Comforts from Romans, for additional daily devotional reading.
In any case, my hope is that your faith in Christ and all he’s done for you will grow and produce fruit in your life. And when the new year rolls around in 9 months, may you rest in his love for you again, with no need to hit “rewind.”
 Luther’s preface to Romans
Click here for the reading plan.
Elyse M. Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the head of Counsel from the Cross Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored over 15 books, including Because He Loves Me, Give Them Grace, and Comforts from Romans.