I’ve still turned the Christmas lights on this morning. I’m not quite ready to give them up. There is relief, though, that I can turn down the intensity of wanting to acknowledge each day of Advent with a blog post and return to my “Sunday and Wednesday” plan. It feels like a long exhale after heavy exercise. You do it for all the right reasons but it still feels good to be done. The benefits always come after… So I decided to look at what I’d written last year after Advent had ended.
“I Thessalonians 1:3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
There’s something of a letdown now that the intensity of Advent is done. There’s a sense of needing to come off the mountain high of this last month. That’s just what I Thessalonians 1 has offered me. It’s a reminder that my words are “work that comes from faith,” and …effort that comes from love. They brought me to that high point of of my Advent and Christmas celebration in those days and now this realization; there is no mountain high without the “stable” foundation, the…perseverance that comes from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ IN the presence of our God and Father.”
One word appeared in both the paragraph I began with and last year’s writing…intensity. I liked finding I’d felt that intensity again this year. It’s the “Stable” Foundation that’s a benefit from the “exercise.”
Romans 1 – New American Standard Bible (NASB)
1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was borthe Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I first read this passage my inclination was that it didn’t meet my study criteria of looking for ways to understand the effect and application of Grace in today’s world and in my life. Here’s what changed my mind.
“…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;…” And here’s why.
This Sunday I’ll be in church. I’ve chosen my churches carefully since becoming a believer. I know it’s just a building filled with people who are drawn there for many reasons. It’s likely there would be a very small number of people who would declare one of those reasons to be “needing the obedience of faith.” But up in front stands a man who has been given that charge of Grace, “in His name,” regardless…
• Regardless of what we think we need or what he knows we need, he speaks of offered Grace.
• Regardless of our recognizing his elevated status he confesses his own need for Grace.
• Regardless of strife in the body, he hopes Grace will prevail.
• Regardless of exhaustion when sacred and moral duties use up all his energy and time, it’s Grace that makes him put one foot in front of the other.
• Regardless of sometimes being a wounded target, it’s Grace that heals and encourages.
• Regardless of all the evidence to the contrary it’s Grace that lets him look out at our faces and believe “you also are the called of Jesus Christ.” That’s real-time, real-life Grace…Regardless.