Romans 15

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“…God wants the combination of His steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever He will do next.  May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all” (v 4-5 MSG).

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus” (v 4-5 NIV).

ENDURANCE – God’s “steady, constant calling” (Peterson, The Message)*

ENCOURAGEMENT – God’s “warm, personal counsel” (Peterson)

HOPE  – “alert for whatever He will do next” (Peterson)

The purpose of Your Word unfolds here: to teach me, to instill Your character in me.  Intrinsic to You are endurance and encouragement–these are part of Your character.  From the riches of who You are, You reach out to me with gifts of the same.  You are “dependably steady,” enduring through everything. In Your Word, You are steadily, constantly calling me to follow you always.  You are “warmly personal,” full of encouragement, as You set forth “warm, personal counsel” in Your Word, that’s applicable to EVERYthing I have or will ever face, as You keep me “alert for whatever You’ll do next.”

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (v 13 NIV)

“God of hope” –that’s YOU, Papa!  Not that You’re the Subject of hope, but You’re the AUTHOR of it.  “Hope…finds its expression in endurance under trial,” (Vines, p. 563).**  “It is ‘an anchor of the soul’ (Hebrews 6:18-19), staying in place amidst the storms of this life. It is a purifying power (1 John 3:3).

Write on the pages of my heart, the narrative of Your hope as it infiltrates my being.  When the trials come, may You pen how hope spurs me onward, enduring the trying circumstances.  When the storms rage, Your prose can convey how Your hope anchors my life and assists me in riding out the storm.  With “confident expectation” (Vines, p. 562)** set on You, I watch You unfold each chapter of my life and desire for You to purify my heart and mind, just like Jesus’ (1 John 3:3) … until You pen THE END of this life, and begin the sequel set in eternity.  Amen.

*The Message, contemporary paraphrase of the New Testament by Eugene Peterson

**An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by  W.E. Vine

Romans 13

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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DEBT OF LOVE

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…” (v 8 NIV)

“Don’t run up debts, except for the huge debt of love you owe each other” (v 8 MSG)

Thank You, Father, for the lessons You’ve taught me through taking care of my own debt.  Thanks for connecting me with Crown Ministries several years ago,** that study through Your Word which reveals Your plan for how I can best handle Your money (and other resources) that You allow me to use.  Plus, You woke me up to the realities of debt … and here in this verse, those realities twist into being an expected part of life in You … but another kind of debt.

You are the lender in this case.  You have said, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another … We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:10-11, 19 NIV).  And when You were here in skin, before Your death as a human, You said, “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

My credit limit was maxed out by my own sin.  You paid that debt with the blood of Your Son.  Now, You set the terms of repayment: “Love one another,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Thanks, Father, for Your example of how to love and for Your help as I do so.

ARMOR OF LIGHT

(c) Kat Kreations – Do Not Download or Copy or Otherwise Take/Use This Image – Visit http://katkreations82.weebly.com to order as a greeting card or art print

“…Let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daylight… Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (v 12-14 NIV)

Father, protect me from getting so absorbed and exhausted by the investment of myself in all my day-to-day responsibilities and obligations that I would ever become oblivious to You.  Center all of me on all of You that I can know, and keep me pressing forward.  Dress me in Your armor.  Clothe me with Jesus — garments that reflect YOUR choice of fashion and style.  Cause my mind to be absorbed with Your Word and Your will.

“…The night is about over, dawn is about to break.  Be up and awake to what God is doing!  God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work He began when we first believed.  We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight.  Get out of bed and get dressed.  Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!” (v 13-14 MSG)

As I continue paying my debt of love and put on Your armor of light, keep shaping all of who I am to be just like Jesus.  Amen.

**For more info on Crown Ministries, see their website:  http://www.crown.org

Romans 12:1-3

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“…[with] God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life–and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (12:1-2 MSG)

Today is one of those really full days, Father.  To lift up the load and place it at Your feet, I’ll definitely need Your help, Your strength.  Still, I offer today to You.  As I awaken and with my head still enjoying the pillow, I greet You.  As I crawl out of a warm, comfy bed, I roll to the floor to kneel before You, surrendering today to You.  Then, we go about the day together, my hand in Yours, as You lead, teach, encourage, comfort, strengthen, etc.

Open my eyes to see the many, many things You do for me even in one day.  “The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what we do for Him.” (v 3 MSG)  Help me recognize Your activity in my life, acknowledge it and proclaim Your praise in light of the attention You give me and energy You invest in me … Thank You for embracing who I am; I choose to embrace who You are.

Lord, keep this world, this culture that I live in from infecting my mind, my heart and my behavior with ideas, ideals, practices, and attitudes that are not of You, that do not ultimately honor You.  So many subtle things can seep into who I am that have come from the world and not from You.  However, when I choose to saturate my mind with Your Word and my heart with continual fellowship with You, then the world has no room to get in.  Daily increase my attention to You and Your Word’s influence on me, as You cut down the influence this culture has on me.  Make me holy, like You want me to be.

You are continually at work around me, Father.  I see Your hand, Your glory in so many things.  As You work, You pursue on ongoing love relationship with me–it’s a real and personal one.  You invite me to be vitally involved with You in Your work.

Thanks for how You speak to me by Your Holy Spirit through Your Word.  And You speak through prayer, circumstances, and Your Body as You reveal to me Yourself, Your purposes and Your ways.

When You invite me to work with You, it always leads me to a crisis of belief.  I must decide whether my faith in You truly believes that You know best, and I must decide to act on that belief in You.  There are adjustments in my life that I must make in order to join what You’re doing.  Each step I take in obedience allows me to know You, to experience You and allows You to accomplish Your work through me.  (*Blackaby/King, p. 32)

So, Father, take my heart, conform it.  Take my mind, transform it to Yours, as You make me just like Jesus.  Amen.

*Segment adapted from Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby & Claude King, Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Romans 10

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us… Say the welcoming word to God—‘Jesus is my master’ –embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead… With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between Him and me!’”  (v 9-10 MSG)

There was a wall that separated You and me, Father, a wall that was erected long, long before I was even conceived.  You had had such a wonderful plan for Your creation.  Yet, since You created people with a free will, desiring that they would choose to love and follow You, oh! so many chose to look another way … And the dividing wall was slowly built, “brick by brick” — until Your created people, whom You loved, were left standing apart from You on the other side.

Your love for us doesn’t give up at all.  You saw that wall and You chose the very BEST way to bring it down.  Further along in human history, You entered the scene as Your Son — first as a Baby, then as a boy who grew to a Man.  That Man showed me how to live–Your desire for me in the first place–as I chose to follow You.  Then, You let Him be put to death, so that by His death that wall between You and me would be removed!

Thank You for clearing the way to You.  Thank You for the privilege of approaching You and of walking in Your presence throughout each day.  I’ll “say it, right out loud: GOD HAS SET EVERYTHING RIGHT BETWEEN HIM AND ME!” (v 10 MSG)  Take my heart, my mind, my will and make me just like Jesus. Amen.

Romans 9

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by Him who calls–“ (v 11-12 NIV)

“What God did in this case made it perfectly plain that His purpose is not a hit-or-miss thing dependent on what we do or don’t do, but a sure thing determined by His decision, flowing steadily from His initiative… God has the first word, initiating the action, in which we play our part for good or ill” (v 11-12, 18 MSG)

It all boils down to two facts:  (1) There is a God; and (2) I am NOT Him.  You are Sovereign Lord — there is NONE like You.  You are above all things.  You are the Potter who shapes each piece of clay into a vessel or utensil that will carry out the purpose You have for it.

Here I am as a piece of clay.  You’re kneading, pulling, stretching, molding as You work on transforming me to be just like Jesus.  Help me to be continually pliable in Your hands, Lord.  Amen.

Romans 8:18-39

Eyes speak so easily, Lord. Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”
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Waiting …waiting …and more waiting–‘seems to be a common pastime in any era, not necessarily a chosen action, but one that’s just part of life (especially when all those orange barricades line a highly traveled roadway–ugh!) Yet, when it comes to spiritually waiting, You, Father, bring Your presence, Your purpose, and Your promise to carry me through. “And [I] know that in ALL THINGS [You work] for the good of those who love [You,] who have been called according to His purpose.” (v 28 NIV)

YOUR PRESENCE WITH ME
“…the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.  He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves…” (v 26-27 MSG)

Because You live in me by Your Spirit, You know me so thoroughly, so intimately. Much like a mother can decipher a point and a grunt, You can tell by my sighs and moans just what I need … and then You’re at work to meet that need according to Your will for me. “THAT’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (v 28 MSG)

YOUR PURPOSE FOR ME
“God knew what He was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son… We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him.” (v 29 MSG)
• You made the decision of what Your children should be like
• You followed up by calling people by name
• You set us on a solid basis with Yourself
• You then stay with us to the end, gloriously completing what You have begun

YOUR PROMISE TO ME
• There are BETTER things to come (v 18)
• Your continual attention to my growth (v 28-29)
• Your victory is my victory (v 37)
• Your never-ceasing love for me (v 38-39)

“[Nothing] fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s loves because of the way that Jesus our master has embraced us.” (v 38-39 MSG)
You hold me. You carry me. You love me for always, Jesus.

“In You alone is where I find my comfort.
In You alone … You’re my only hope
In You alone, my heart has found a resting place,
only in You alone … ” (lyrics by Kim Hill)

Your presence with me reveals Your purpose for me as You fulfill Your promise to me. I love You, Jesus. Thank You for being with me, guiding me and loving me. Keep making me just like You. Amen.

Romans 8:1-17

Eyes speak so easily, Lord.  Let the eyes You’ve created for me master the words, “Jesus loves you.”

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“In His Son, Jesus, He personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.” (v 3 MSG)

Thank You, Father, for stepping into the human timeline as Your Son, Jesus.  Thank You for making a way to be set right in Your eyes and to be freed from sin’s chains.

“…For you who welcome Him, in whom He dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms… When God lives and breathes in you (and He does as surely as He did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life.” (v 9-11 MSG)

You make Your home inside of me.  Thank You for choosing to live in me.  Thank You for the freedom, the deliverance You bring from the sin that tries to choke out life.

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.  It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.”  (v 15-17 MSG)

Thank You, Papa, for this intimate existence with You.  Thank You for unfolding each new day before me as I walk with You through it.

This reminds me of something Marge Caldwell shared during Heritage Keepers one year.  She said that her mom used to wake her up each morning with “Good morning!  It’s gonna be a GREAT day!  ‘Wonder what God’s gonna do for us…?  ‘Wonder what we’re gonna do for Him…?”  (WOW! What an expectant attitude to grow up with!)

So, Papa, what are we going to do together today?  What will You do in, through, for and around me as You make me just like Jesus?  Here’s my hand … let’s go do today together!