Found this wonderful blog below to reblog….now back to work on my novel! And I don’t know why this song is running through my head today….Oz didn’t give nothing to the tin man that he didn’t already have….
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I look forward to Paul’s next letters to the Romans, each day. Here’s Romans 13 with a short reflection.
New International Version (NIV)
Submission to Governing Authorities
13 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Love Fulfills the Law
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
The Day Is Near
11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
I’m not going to dwell on the first section, where Paul talks about obeying the government. Caesar had Paul killed and that wouldn’t have happened if Paul’s message was all about obedience to civil authorities. I believe Paul’s words were not for the secular, but for the followers of Christ. He was beheaded for promoting a rival government known as the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, while Christians are citizens of Heaven and must first obey God, at the same time, we should obey earthly governments. We are responsible to submit to the laws of the country in which we live.
Now, onto the fun stuff! Scroll up and read the last part again. Romans 13: 11-14 is so appropriate for a day that’s been feared to be the “last day on earth.” To this, I say: Whatever (with an eye-roll). I mean, really, what’s all this hoopla? Are we so silly that we tremble at these predictions? We should, every day, be trembling while working out our salvation with God. (Philippians 2:12). Instead of worrying about the last day of earth, we should be thinking: “…It is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11, NKJV).
So, wake up! Have you looked around? Do you not see that death can happen at any time, to anyone. A small child reading a book in her elementary school classroom. A teenager speeding on the highway. People die of cancer every day, regardless of their age. Accidents happen. There’s no guarantee how many days we will be given. We are not immortal beings, here on Earth forever. So, I say, “Wake up!” And realize that our earthly life can and will end any time. And we don’t always get a warning.
So, though we still have some hours left to the “end of the world day,” day, if the world doesn’t end today, our lives could end tomorrow. So a more important question than, “when?” is, “Are we ready?”
Looking forward to Christmas and Romans 14, and if it tomorrow doesn’t happen for me or the world, then looking forward to seeing you all on the other side!
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Thanks Deacon Alfred, for this challenge. What a blessing to read Romans! Wow! Gold mine! There’s so much rich wisdom in this chapter! Read, enjoy, and come away spiritually richer! And at the end of this post, enjoy an inspirational true story from Bishop Kenneth Kinner.
New International Version (NIV)
A Living Sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Humble Service in the Body of Christ
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
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. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Amazing! If I could say one verse was my favorite, hmmm….maybe: Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
If everyone lived only by this verse, imagine how beautiful this world would be.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
It’s sad that evil and hate exists and not everyone wants to live in peace with one another. The key words are, “as far as it depends upon you.”
On a personal note, this is something I’ve struggled with. I can’t control others or force them to live in peace with me, though God knows I’ve tried, even doing the heaping coals thing. Blood isn’t always thicker than water. The blood of Christ is what binds us to each other. If people don’t love God and if they hate and wish harm upon me or upon my dearest loved ones, I will not repay evil with evil. But I will keep my distance, pray for them, and do my best to live joyfully in Christ, maintaining my spiritual fervor, and continuing to use the gifts the Lord has given to me, as this chapter teaches. Father, we are all your children, please handle us all according to your perfect will. Amen.
Regarding Romans 12:2, please enjoy this inspirational true story, written by Bishop Kenneth Kinner, Episcopal Vicar of Church of the Holy Family, Casper, Wyoming, (Holy Catholic Church, Anglican Rite):
Phil came to Casper seeking a new start in life. He had been in a California prison for seventeen years. He still faced a form of imprisonment; Phil was addicted to alcohol. As a felon and as an addict it was very difficult to find employment.
Finally he landed a job cleaning up a local bar every night after closing time. The overwhelming temptation always in front of him.
Phil was ashamed, hurting , feeling worthless. Then in his most basic of needs he learned to pray to the Lord for help. This world, as he knew it, was a path to self destruction. On a certain morning he was walking back to his ‘home’ in a seedy hotel about a mile away. Dawn was about to signal a new day; Phil was asking the Lord to help him.
What happened next changed Phil’s life forever. The Lord Jesus appeared to him on Center Street in Casper, Wyoming. I’m not sure what the conversation was but clearly the loving power of God was released. Phil never had another drink as long as he lived.
Then what do you do about employment now? The postmaster in another town, learning of Phil’s experience, gave him a job as caretaker of the post office property. A convicted felon in a post office ! Against all the rules. But, for over ten years Phil cared for the property; he never once failed his charge.
In the fullness of years God called Phil, a sober Christian man, to his eternal home.
I was asked to offer the Burial Office for him. Yes, they called it a ‘memorial’. A friend of Phil’s handed me Phil’s Bible. My attention was on a marker in Paul’s letter to the Romans. The following was underlined: “Do not be conformed to his world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” Romans 12:2
The Christmas Challenge Continues: Romans 5
Peace and Hope
Thanks for continuing with me on Deacon Alfred’s challenge to read a chapter a day of Romans until Christmas. If you’re just here for this one chapter, that’s cool, too. Here we go:
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man,and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—
13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.
15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
My thoughts on Chapter 5 (while traveling across the state of Kansas, making our way back home after an Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass and Celebration in Greeley, Colorado):
Paul begins by writing about peace and hope through our faith in Christ, our Savior. Because of Jesus, we have peace with God and hope in the glory of God. In this troubled world, in times of stress and busyness, I want to linger over the words: peace and hope. I want to say them out loud, roll them over my tongue, feel them deep in my soul. But then, right after those lovely words, Paul hits us with the word, “sufferings” and couples it with the word “glory.” How can we “glory” in sufferings?” Even if I get a hangnail, I fuss and complain. Who wants to suffer? What glory can there be in sufferings?
But, then Paul gives us this formula: because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
I could stop there and ponder on just this much of Romans. I can think on and digest all the above, and recall it through struggles, sickness, and other stresses of life. But, sometimes sufferings run deeper than a hangnail, a sickness, or even a season of sadness. A mother loses her child to Leukemia. A drunk driver kills a man’s wife and child. A son falls to a life of crime because of drug addictions. A football hero takes a gun and shoots his fiance. A gunman opens fire in a public place. A tornado tears through a town and destroys lives and homes. For those who are touched personally by such horrible tragedies, glorying in them would seem impossible.
I’ll return to this thought after a few short words about the remainder of this chapter. Paul discusses the fall of Adam bringing all of mankind into sin and death, but the grace of God, through the righteousness of Christ, has much more power to bring salvation to a multitude of believers.
We are offered the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. We should never forget this greatest gift, especially now, during Christmas season. From one year to the next, gifts will be forgotten, used up, broken, or traded in for a better ones later. Salvation is forever. We carry it with us into eternal life, whether our earthly life ends today, tomorrow, on December 21st or at a ripe old age. Death is inevitable.
So, returning to horrific sufferings. Look at this last line of chapter five:
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There is hope. Even through the most difficult situations, God’s grace is there…it can be increased. God will help us through our sufferings. He will give us the grace to continue on. And because of Jesus Christ, we have the hope of eternal life. Even for those who suffer devastating loses, even of loved ones, remember this: One day, in Heaven, we will live in perfect peace with Him and reunite with our loved ones. This is truth. This is hope. This is peace. Thank you Father, for the gift of your son, Jesus Christ. He offers us salvation and helps us through every suffering.