Tag Archives: Romans

Psalm 40, Proverbs 19-21, Romans 16

Have you ever felt invisible? Or maybe there has been a time when your hard work, act of kindness or good deeds went completely unnoticed or unappreciated.  From motherhood to the workplace, the day to day of living a life that is set apart from the way of the world is difficult and thankless.

I am always surprised by passages like this one in Romans 16 because just when you think the little people go unnoticed, names pop up that you have never heard before. At different points in my life I have definitely felt like a “no name” and that all my efforts are in vain. To make a name for yourself, you typically have to be over the top, smarty pants, super successful, rich or loud OR on the other end of the spectrum; ignorant, disruptive, or violent. Often, there is little room for the middle man if you want to be noticed.

But here in Romans 16, Paul recognizes 25 “no names” that never had their own book of the bible but made a mark in the faithful, day to day service to their Master. Here they are called patrons, fellow workers in Christ Jesus, fellow prisoners, chosen. Some “risked their necks” for Paul’s life and all of them worked hard for their fellow believers. Paul not only mentions these people by name but asks that the Romans would treat them in a way worthy of the saints and to accept them. These people’s faithful service in the day to day grind paid off.

When I read through the list of names and descriptions Paul gives, one word comes to mind; consistency. These believers didn’t just do one random act of kindness and then move on. They lived lives of service to the Lord. Some of them had actually walked with Jesus and other’s converted after he had already risen but they remained faithful to the Lord’s service. I know that deeds to not gain my entrance ticket to heaven but somewhere my name is written- I am not a no name any longer.

Before Paul closes out his letter to the Romans he gives a final word of warning to these people who have remained consistently faithful over the years.

 

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,[f] and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” Romans 16 17-20

 

Some things never change. That warning from Paul over 2,000 years ago is still true today. His warning is a reminder that if we are not careful our once faithful hearts can quickly be lead astray. As Romans 16:25a, 27 says, “Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”

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Proverbs 3-5; Romans 10

When reading Proverbs, I understand Ezekiel’s appetite, “Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat this scroll I am going to give you and fill your stomach with it.’ So I ate it, and it tasted like honey.” Ezekiel 3:3

There are Proverbs that I want to grab hold of, memorize, ponder and turn into personal prayers. I hear God’s warning to protect that which he regards precious, my heart:

“Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Another Proverb stands out and I flashback to playing dress up at my grandmother’s house: I am 5 years old, standing in a discarded pair of white high heels and trying on old church hats and admiring myself in the mirror.

“(Wisdom) will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor.” Proverbs 4:9

Grace is the glorious crown Jesus has put on my head. I mentally don it as I begin the day, It isn’t make believe; it is reality. Grace bestows a beauty that no make up artist or plastic surgeon can come close to. It shines through in the darkest of places and it is the very righteousness of Christ covering me. I am the undeserving sinner who is now a child of the King. The garland of grace transforms all who bow down to receive it.

My hunger for God’s truth, his Word increases.

“The word is near you, it is in your mouth and in your heart. That is the word of faith we are proclaiming: that if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is in your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

Lord, your love is my glory, my crown. Thank you for your life giving grace. May your Word be alive and at work in me today so that I live in the truth of who You are and what You have done. Amen

Klueh

 

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1 Kings 3; 2 Chronicles 1; Psalm 42; Romans 8

4King Solomon went to Gibeon to offer a sacrifice. He went there because it was the most important place of worship. He offered 1,000 burnt offerings on that altar. 5While he was at Gibeon, the Lord came to him in a dream during the night. God said, “Ask for anything you want. I will give it to you.”

6Solomon answered, “You were very kind to your servant, my father David. He obeyed you. He was honest and lived right. And you showed great kindness to him when you allowed his son to be king after him. 7Lord my God, you have allowed me to be king in my father’s place. But I am like a little child. I do not have the wisdom I need to do what I must do. 8I, your servant, am here among your chosen people. There are too many of them to count. 9So I ask that you give me wisdom. Then I can rule the people in the right way. Then I will know the difference between right and wrong. Without wisdom, it is impossible to rule this great people of yours.” 1 Kings 3:4-8  (2 Chronicles 1:7-10) (ICB)

If God had come to me like He came to Solomon and said, “Ask for anything you want. I will give it to you.” I’m not sure what I would have said. Having read these accounts, I would know to ask for wisdom and understanding, but I also have a list of wants and (in my mind) needs – I want a cosponsor for my husband to be able to come to US and our family be reunited; I want greater financial stability; I want to live in a nicer, more spacious house with a fenced in yard in an awesome community of friends; I want an iPhone that actually works correctly, I want…I want…I want….

I suppose the reality is that asking for wisdom and understanding would make a way for gaining the solutions to my wants list. But I wonder if my fallen nature would think immediately to the bullet points on the list rather than the all encompassing wisdom.

In the midst of a lot of lingering unknowns in my life right now, I struggle every day with the desire to have answers to all of the uncertainty. If someone asks me what my plans are, what I want, I can list out all the things I think “should” be happening; but are my “wants” lined up with what God knows is best for my, for my family, not to mention His timing. I don’t know.

He knows the big picture, the eternal. I can only see my little moment of that eternity. But in my weakness, when it seems like nothing is going as I hoped, it is frustrating.

26Also, the Spirit helps us. We are very weak, but the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us. The Spirit speaks to God with deep feelings that words cannot explain. 27God can see what is in people’s hearts. And he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit speaks to God for his people in the way that God wants. Romans 8:26-27 (ICB)

When Solomon asked for wisdom, God was pleased, because Solomon trusted God. God saw that Solomon was looking to God, not to riches or power, and so God, in turn, gave Him everything. It’s so important for me to press in and really trust God, trust His wisdom, His timing, His provision. It’s important for me to trust His goodness as my Father, no matter if I have the answers, the understanding, the wisdom, or not.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your Spirit. Strengthen me, in my weakness. He me better understand Your ways. See my heart and make it wise because I turn to You. Check my spirit when I look to my own understanding, so I can put my focus back on You. In Jesus name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie

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1 Kings 4; Proverbs 1-2; Psalm 43; Romans 9

My child, listen to what I say,

and treasure my commands.

Tune your ears to wisdom,

and concentrate on understanding.

Cry out for insight,

and ask for understanding.

Search for them as you would for silver;

seek them like hidden treasures.

Then you will understand what it means to fear the lord,

and you will gain knowledge of God.

For the lord grants wisdom!

From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.

He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.

He guards the paths of the just

and protects those who are faithful to him.

Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,

and you will find the right way to go.

For wisdom will enter your heart,

and knowledge will fill you with joy.

Wise choices will watch over you.

Understanding will keep you safe. Proverbs 2: 1-11

The Lord gives me wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. He gives me common sense. He guards and protects me because I believe in Him, because I am His child.

And yet, sometimes I don’t always seek Him right away for the knowledge and wisdom that I need. I don’t always ask Him to help me make wise choices as I journey through time. I don’t always ask Him to give me wisdom to handle my kids’ daily shenanigans or to manage my household without feeling completely exhausted and overwhelmed.

It’s more often than not, that I remember to ‘cry out for insight and ask for understanding’ when I am at my wits end, when I am not sure how I’ll survive another moment. And sometimes, even when I do cry out, I have difficulty filtering God’s still small voice out from the cacophony of living with three small children.

But all who listen to me will live in peace,

untroubled by fear of harm. Proverbs 1:33

In reality, He is always there for me, always willing to share His heart, offer counsel, and enlighten my mind. He wants me to understand the right steps to take, and know which way to walk. He wants me to be privy to His expansive knowledge, pieces of hidden treasure, God’s ‘hacks’, as it were, to the ups and downs of life.

He wants me be filled with hope and joy that is found in insight. He wants me to be overflowing with love that replaces fear. He wants me to live in His peace, the peace that surpasses human understanding, and untroubled by the potential of harm.

Yesappa, Thank You for being there for me always, providing for my every need. Tune my ears to hear your voice and help me concentrate on Your Words. Remind me to continuously seek out Your understanding. Help me treasure every tidbit of wisdom and insight that You offer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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1 Kings 1: 1 Chronicles 26-28; Romans 6

Waiting and watching as death drew closer, I sat beside and watched each breath. The chest rose, then fell; I waited to see, “Was that the last breath?” The final breath came and a haunting, stillness followed. A soul who seemed larger than life, someone whom I thought would always be, was gone. Spiritual truth became physical reality. There was no punching through some unknown wall to draw that life back into existence. It’s from that context that I read Paul’s words:

Count yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ. Romans 6:11.

If we know Jesus Christ as Lord, then the power of sin is dead within us. If we try to grab hold of sin in hopes that it brings us life, we grasp in vain. Sin is without breath; once we are found in Christ, sin has absolutely nothing to offer us. It takes us down dead end roads and spent….so why do I forget that? Thank God for his grace!

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22,23.

Lord, thank you that you have called me to live in a richness and beauty that can only be found in you. Forgive me when my appetite for you is weak and small. Forgive me when I choose death over life, sin over righteousness. Thank you Lord, that when you see me, you see the righteousness of Christ.  Lord, be my master and teach me what it means to pursue your  holiness in all its wonder. Amen.

Klueh

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2 Samuel 15-17; Psalms 3 and 63; Romans 1

Aside from the Lord’s Prayer, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and the Doxology, I grew up understanding prayer as something being spontaneous and free flowing. Prayer emerged from need (in my mind’s eye, Mom is taking notes while on the phone as part of the church prayer chain).  So often, my own words fail to articulate the thoughts and deep longings swirling around inside of me. It’s been later in life that ancient, written prayers have brought me into God’s company.

Jews prayed and sang psalms across the millennia. I imagine Jesus praying  Psalm 63 out loud in the temple with his Jewish brothers. Reading the Psalm through this lens magnifies its force and meaning. I find myself calling out to God repeatedly, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my should thirsts for you, my body longs for you…” as I crave his nearness, his presence.  “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” Just like David, God invites me to enjoy his mysterious and divine company. How in the world can this be true? “Because your love (hesed/lovingkindness/mercy) is better than life…”

When I receive and accept God’s invitation to draw near him and be in his presence, “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods.” The Hebrew words for the “richest of foods” mean “fat” and “abundance” not “malnourished” and  “inadequate.”  The satisfied soul can’t help but respond with gratitude and joy.

When I enter into God’s company, this place where I quiet myself to hear his words of love and acceptance, I know his protection and care. When I open myself up to his Word, when scriptures and songs about God come into my thoughts, the invitation to receive his love resounds. It can happen throughout the day or even in the wee hours of the morning, On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”  When I set aside distractions and set my focus on Christ, I know his peace and protection. “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” So why do I choose business and distraction over the invitation to lean into God?

Hearing and accepting God’s call to draw near doesn’t guarantee a constant spiritual and emotional high. David wrote plenty of other psalms which described feelings of abandonment and loneliness, but he consistently, faithfully acknowledges God’s faithfulness, “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”  This  prayer anchors me to God no matter what the circumstance or the state of my emotional wellbeing. The truth is that when I call out to God, I call on the One who hears me… loves me… and holds me close to his heart.

klueh

 

 

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Psalm 105, 106; Romans 15:1-20

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;

make known his deeds among the peoples!

Sing to him, sing praises to him;

tell of all his wondrous works!

Glory in his holy name;

let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

Seek the Lord and his strength;

seek his presence continually!

Remember the wondrous works that he has done,

his miracles, and the judgments he uttered… Psalm 105:1-5

 

Praise the Lord!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever!

Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord,

or declare all his praise? Psalm 106:1-2

For some reason it seems that I fall into complaining way more often than praising God for what He has done for me in my life. I try not to grumble, but sometimes I catch myself acting like a wandering Israelite in the desert, unsatisfied with manna and quail meat, nostalgic for the past, even if that meant enslavement.

In the midst of the general chaos of day to day life as a single mom (temporarily as we are working on getting my husband to the states in the next 6 months or so) to two very active, high-spirited preschoolers and pregnant with number three, it is easy to forget the ways that God has taken care of me over the years. Heck, there are some days when I can’t even remember the last time I took a shower, if I brushed my teeth, or if took my prenatal vitamins.

But when I do remember, it makes a world of difference to my outlook of my circumstances. It lifts me up; it encourages me and reminds me that I really am not alone, that I follow Jehovah Jireh.

So, I am going to take this opportunity to give thanks to the Lord and make His deeds known. I am going to remember His wondrous works, just a few of the many ways He has taken care of me since I made the choice to live by faith and “GO” into the nations:

  • There is always a need for finances for traveling. God has provided through some of the most unexpected sources and ways. Once, a stranger (a friend of a friend) donated frequent flyer miles to me when I was struggling to raise the needed funds to get back to India. Another time, one person wrote the check for the whole amount need to pay for airfare. Last year, I needed nearly $600 to be able to pay an unanticipated price difference for a flight, and as the need was being prayed for, the exact amount was deposited into my PayPal account.
  • On one trip to India, I was concerned about how to handle my luggage during the 12 hour layover between my international and domestic flights. When I went to collect my luggage everything was missing, ‘lost’ somewhere between the US and France. I had nothing but my carry-on bag to deal while waiting; an effective answer to prayer. All of my luggage was delivered to our local airport less than 24 hours later.
  • I had miscalculated the dates I could be in India and I wasn’t scheduled to depart until 3 days later than my visa allowed. I ended up needing to cancel my reservation and rebook with a new airline because there were no more seats available with my original airline. The journey was uneventful and relaxing, the service was very good. The next day after arriving safely in the U.S., I heard on the news that all of the British Airways flights, both in and out of the country, had been grounded due to Icelandic volcanic ash in the air. This would have kept me in India longer than I could legally be there, but the flight pattern of the new airline avoided the ash and got me home safely.

There have been countless times when I wasn’t sure how I would pay a bill, how I would provide food for my family, or how our ministry in India would be able to accomplish an outreach that had been planned. Though fear tries to creep in, resulting in pointless murmuring, in those times I have still held on to my faith in God’s goodness and trusted in His love for me.

He knows the smallest of details, even when I can’t see the big picture. He knows every hair on my head. He knows all of my needs. He cares about me. And even though His provision often happens in unpredictable, surprising ways, He always gives me exactly what I need, exactly when I need it.

Yesappa, Thank You!

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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