{ The Romans Farewell }

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This is all for Him, who can strengthen you, because of Jesus

Because of the gospel

That mystery that was hidden for thousands of years

That secluded secret that has now been whispered

And joyfully shouted

To you — to us —  to the world

 

This is all for Him, whose words can inspire faith and enable obedience

This is for Him, the only God

The wise God

Who deserves glory forever.

In the name of Jesus Christ,

Amen.

From Romans 16:25-27

~~The Apostle Paul wrote 13 letters to the churches. The closing of each of these letters often read like a blessing or a doxology — a short passage of praise to God. I was reading over one of these the other day, noticing how Paul’s personality, passion for God and love for beloved, struggling pilgrims showed up in the letter closings. It made me want to try to understand each one. In future posts, I’m going to try to put each one of these in my own inarticulate words.

~~Photo:Aaron Burden

{ Dying Muscles}

People who love to exercise (and I’m guessing here) often start the day:

  • Running or Working Out
  • Hydrating
  • Eating protein for growth and power.
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I am a Christian.
I’m fueling up and getting ready to exercise —
I’m going to exercise my “dying muscles.”
Today, I’m going to do what is harder than a marathon and more challenging than an Iron Woman race.
By the grace and power of God, I’m planning to die to myself.
This feat requires a morning run in prayer.
It takes Growth Food to give me power.
It takes starting every day reminding myself with the basics: “I am a Christian. This is what Christians do.”
It takes gumption and a whole lot of grace to exercise the dying muscles.
It’s easier to sit, veg, and morph into what is around me.
It requires supernatural strength to:
  • Die to myself and put others first.
  • Train my tongue muscles to obey me.
  • Keep running the Christian race.
  • Press on in my marriage.
  • Shun selfishness.
  • Look around and do unto others.
  • Love, love and love til it hurts.
I’m getting ready to die today to self-wishes and sin-centered choices.
Perhaps –like exercise– it gets easier the more I do it.
It won’t make me famous — only God will know.
Today, I’m going to do what is harder than a marathon and more challenging than an Iron Woman race.
In the grace and power of God, I’m going to exercise my dying muscles.
 
“I die every day!  What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus?  if the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning…”
I Corinthians 15:31-34
 
Photo credit:  Bradley Wentzel

{ God’s Valentine }

renee-fisher-494610But now thus says the Lord,
He who created you, O Jacob,
    He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine!

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When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

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Isaiah 43:1-3

photo credits:

rapids:James Mertz

fire:Matt Howard

hearts:Renee Fisher

{ If I Planned the World }

If I planned the world, I wouldn’t have left Adam and Eve to themselves in the garden.

(I might have started the world over — from scratch.)

I wouldn’t have sent the Rescuer to earth as a mild & helpless baby — born in an animal barn.

I would have sent Him as a prince, born in a palace.

I would have sent bodyguards to make sure the Son of God would never get lost, overtired, tempted or hurt.

I would have planned His itinerary; insisting that He sleep in approved hotels, fed with the finest food.

I would have screened His followers with thorough background checks.

I would have demanded justice: a fair trial with plenty of evidence to display His innocence.

He never would have died at all.

But Jesus Christ came into the world to die — to save sinners.

It was God’s perfect plan.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

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If I ever think I can figure God out, or get what he’s doing, or ask “why did God allow….”

I can remember this:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord…” Isaiah 55:8

So, this is the season to celebrate His humble birth, perfectly planned by God.

And this is the time to get ready for His glorious return.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31)

 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
     call upon him while he is near;
 let the wicked forsake his way,
     and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
 let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
     and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
     neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
  For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
     so are my ways higher than your ways
     and my thoughts than your thoughts.




Isaiah 55:6-9

© Lisa M. Luciano

Photo credit:

Cross: Joshua Earle