You are the gem of God’s garden.

This is my mother-in- law’s passion flower. The detail is exquisite! It just takes your breath away. Did you know that each bloom only lasts a single day to enjoy its beauty? And surprisingly there’s not a whole lot of blooms on the vine. Maybe just one each week. When they appear the whole family receives them with the joy God intended when He created these elegant garden gems.

Today we were blessed with two blooms! They’ll be gone tomorrow. But this day was their day to shine in all their splendor.

Reminds me of the words of Jesus:

“Can worry make you live longer? Why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow. They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of them. God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. God will surely do even more for you!” (Matthew 6:27‭-‬30, CEV).

We need not worry. God is the Master Gardner. We are all His passion flowers. If we take the time to look at the details in our life, we will see that His beauty shines in and through all of His children. And I’m so thankful we get more than just a single day, aren’t you? We are created in His image! He loves to bless us.

May you bloom in all the extravagance of God’s beauty today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, and…

(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.

Romans 12. How To Be Changed From the Inside Out.

 





You may listen to this devotional blog here.

 

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.


Romans 12.

I’m not sure about you, but some scriptures remind me of certain people. Romans 12 will forever be associated with a sweet couple who were our life group leaders about ten years ago. There aren’t too many people on this planet with as much grace as these two. This is one of my favorite passages as it reads in The Message:

So here’s what I want you to do, 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.  (Romans 12:1-2, MSG).

Place your life before God, everything about your life. You’ll be changed from the inside out. You will be transformed as you rise above the messiness of the world’s ways and prioritize God’s plan.

The Passion Translation says “Live in holiness experiencing all that delights His heart.” Can we make it our goal to delight His heart? Not with works, nor a tally where we keep score. Rather, just to live every single day as if we are serving God, because we are. Paul’s reminder of these actions is noted in another letter. “Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord himself and not merely for others. For we know that we will receive a reward, an inheritance from the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23-24, TPT).

This also reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:6. The Old Testament Torah encourages us to teach our children God’s law, the Sh’ma, at all times of the day, every day… when you’re waking up, walking along the road, riding bikes in the park, sitting at the dinner table, going to bed… at all times and all the time.

 

Place your life before God, everything about your life. You’ll be changed from the inside out.


The second half of Romans 12 is worth highlighting the whole text! Paul is being very “Solomon-esque” with short, little proverbs to encourage flourishing interconnectedness in our relationships. Each thought is written to encourage our getting along with others. Here’s a delightful list of beautiful things to do today. For yourself. And for each other. It’s very poetic, actually.


Love.

Run.

Hold on.

Love.

Practice.

Be fueled up.

Be alert.

Be expectant.

Pray.

Help.

Host creatively.

Bless.

Laugh.

Cry.

Get along.

Make friends.

Discover beauty.

I continue to be reminded about the context of these readers. First Century Rome was very much like 21st Century New York City. It was the center of the world, filled with great opulence and excess. Likely also filled with great poverty and depression. Healthy relationships in that kind of environment, especially, are key to happiness and life fulfillment. Our role in this world can be summed up in this one directive: “Never let evil defeat you, but defeat evil with good.” (Romans 12:21, TPT).

While this may seem impossible, with the grace of Jesus redeeming us and the power of the Holy Spirit in us, this is not hypothetical! So, do not be discouraged. As the Evangelist noted a few chapters earlier, nothing will separate us from God’s love or His purpose. Today and throughout every day of our life!



© 2020. Rich Ronald.
RichlySpeaking.com

 

Romans 11. Jews And Gentiles are God’s Children.

You may listen to today’s devotional blog here.

Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of  Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans 11.

Paul has an interesting observation about people, specifically the people of Israel. Here they are, God’s chosen children and it seems that most of them didn’t want to be chosen. It’s a burden too heavy to carry. Ah, but the few who accepted it? They are living out their God-given purpose! They let God pursue His interests in them and as a result received His stamp of legitimacy. (Romans 11:7, MSG).

That’s our prayer, isn’t it? I want to be truly authentic in letting God’s grace and purpose be revealed in me and through me. I want to have the courage to always say, as Jesus did in the garden, “Not my will but your will be done.” (Luke 22:42, NASB).

What does the rest of verse 7 say? This means that only a chosen few of the people of Israel found what all of them were searching for. And the rest of them were stubborn. (Romans 11:7, CEV).

That’s really sad, isn’t it? How many people today are so rigid in their beliefs that they can’t see God’s grace? How often am I? Personally, I do not want to be so stubborn or pretend that I’m following God for my own selfish reasons. I want to fully embrace His grace and purpose! Even today! How about you?

Paul continues with a very familiar word picture of how we Gentiles can become as precious to God as His chosen people, the Israelites. It is by being grafted in. The Apostle says we are grafted in to show the Jews the way back to God.

Do I mean that the people of Israel fell, never to get up again? Certainly not! Their failure made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved, and this will make the people of Israel jealous. (Romans 11:11, CEV).

If you were to take a walk just about anywhere in most of Israel, you will see some amazing olive trees. What is really fascinating is that they sometimes send up new shoots far away from the main trunk. And those shoots can ultimately become strong trees, sometimes even stronger than the main tree. Why is that? Even shoots that are far from an existing tree are connected below ground to the main roots. It’s kind of wild to see. There’s also a process called “grafting.” Even different kinds of tree shoots can be connected to an olive tree and given a new life! Paul says this is like non-Jews becoming as close to the Father’s heart as His chosen children. And that will cause the Jews to want to come back to God.

You see, God goes to supernatural means to get everyone connected to His love and life! Both Gentiles and Jews!

I love how Paul concludes this mystifying example:

Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out. Is there anyone around who can explain God? Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do? Anyone who has done him such a huge favor that God has to ask his advice? Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; Everything ends up in him. Always glory! Always praise! Yes. Yes. Yes. (Romans 11:33-36, MSG — quoting from Isaiah 40:13 and Job 41:11).

Everything, every person, finds their ultimate fulfillment in and through God and God alone.

 

You might find this blog post of interest regarding Jesus as the “shoot” of Jesse, from Isaiah 11.

 

© 2020. Rich Ronald.
RichlySpeaking.com