cRomans 8:38 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, 39 or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us. TLB
“Nothing can ever separate us from his [Christ’s] love.” Nothing! “That’s a big promise, isn’t it? Of course I believe it. Do I live like I believe it? This is one of those big promises it’s easier to “believe” than to integrate into the patterns of real life. An odd turn of mind happened as I pondered these two verses. What if they require my submission in order to believe and accept their assurance? I was surprised by that thought. That’s what made “nothing” something to think about.
Some time ago I discovered a one-word prayer to remind myself to face up to the reality God is organizing the fine points of my life according to his plan, not mine. There are times my greatest need is to pray that one word…”Whatever.” Praying “Whatever” is sometimes only resigned acceptance but sometimes it’s the one-word relief of accepting things that are too big to comprehend. That’s submission. Pray “Whatever” when you can’t figure out God’s plan but you’re convinced he has one.
That one word “nothing” in these verses is so all-encompassing it’s hard to comprehend too. I’m going to add another one-word prayer of submission…”Nothing.” Submission is more complicated than I know how to live but I know offering God these two unlikely words of surrender and acceptance are a good place to begin. Remember “Nothing” is really everything. That makes “Nothing” a good one-word prayer to remind you of the vast scope and permanence of God’s love for you “demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us. Pray it!
Romans 8: 1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
My whole theme for this year’s Big Event has been Blessing. I have practiced what I preached about trying to use my voice to bless others as I went about my Christmas preparation. It’s been a revelation to me that if your mindset is to do that, opportunities just seem to pop up where saying “God bless you”…for whatever…seems natural and right. It bears repeating all year long..
Your Savior has been born! Remembering the Big Event has come to an end. Now I’d like to introduce you to the grown-up Jesus of Romans 8. This is the Savior with treasured gifts for you this Christmas morning; forgiveness, freedom and fulfillment. I know this Jesus well.
I had a very special dream as a relatively new believer more than half a lifetime ago. Jesus had come to take me to see something with him. He held my hand as we looked at a grotesque museum style head-and-shoulders statue sitting alone on a pedestal in the room. It wasn’t until we were leaving and I turned to take one last look at that ugly thing that I saw it was me. That was “my” dream but It has a reality that’s become my blessing for you this Christmas Day.
You have a grown-up Savior who loves you enough to hold your hand while you take one last look at who you “were.” It’s time to open those gifts of forgiveness, freedom and fulfillment. That is no longer who you “are.” Your Savior has been “born again” into your heart’s memory this December. Merry Christmas and God Bless One Last Look.
Romans 16:25-26 All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter. 27 All our praise is focused through Jesus on this incomparably wise God! Yes! MSG
Is spiritual strength your goal? Good! The incomparably wise God is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ.
There is no Plan B.
NCV Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
We read the Scripture because we believe they were “written to teach us.” Learning from them is a very good reason but I don’t think that alone would keep us coming back day after day or account for the impact the Bible has had for such a long time on so many lives. There’s something far more personal happening “so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
We read because we believe our faith is a gift from God that we want to learn about. We read because we believe our relationship to Jesus has brought us grace and forgiveness. We come back and read some more because we discover within those pages there’s something that gives those ancient words new life for today. We read because the secret of endurance and encouragement lies within us, the Holy Spirit – hope, that has promised to reveal the mystery of our personal connection to God and help us navigate in this foreign land we call life.
Romans 14:6-9 What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. MSG
I had to smile when I read this version of Romans 14 because of thanking God for broccoli. It’s a lighthearted paraphrase and a very good reminder “it’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—.”
It’s the mystery of faith. On one hand it’s completely personal, custom tailored for you…not by you…but it grows and matures in the midst of our very public relationships as believers.
If the way you live is consistent with what you believe you can trust that God will make the necessary alterations to that custom fit as you grow so your faith and your relationships always make you look your best.
Romans 13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.
“My dear friend, In my last Letter I said that in the Bible there is more that FINDS me than I have experienced in all other books put together; that the words of the Bible find me at greater depths of my being; and that whatever finds me brings with it an irresistible evidence of its having proceeded from the Holy Spirit.” ‘Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“Be subject to” is a phrase that conflicts with individual choice. It requires surrender of control and a degree of trust that a response is not only necessary but right. We experience the wisdom of governing authority, at its simplest level, while driving. We respond as required at every traffic light because if we subject ourselves to that authority our journey will be safer and more orderly.
I think Coleridge is right. The Word you read in the Bible does find you at the “greater depths” of your being and becomes the green light of “irresistible evidence of its having proceeded from the Holy Spirit.” That’s the governing authority, the holy traffic light if you will, established by God within you for your journey of faith…and it gets even better! That “traffic light” makes possible a two-way street of unique interaction that will bring you the priceless reward of personal intimacy with God.
Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
1. opposite in nature, direction, or meaning.
2. perversely inclined to disagree or to do the opposite of what is expected or desired.
The word “contrary” came to mind when I read these verses from chapter 12. They are so contrary to our human mindset of justice. It’s tempting to add “today” at the end of that last sentence but it seems the Bible would remind me to add “always” instead.
Romans 12 confronts our need to live by the grace of God that will enable us to express true and proper worship through a renewed life. Clearly the old laws of blame and punishment were intended to reveal sin and they worked. What seemed new to the Romans was the idea that God was in charge of renewal as well as justice and revenge.
We may pride ourselves as modern-day believers that we understand that kind of grace but it’s apparent to me those long-ago instructions from Paul are still a necessary reminder that our human nature has to struggle against the desire to repay evil with revenge. That’s contrary!