Romans 1:7-12 (NIV)

What does it mean to live a Christian life in today’s world? Difficult at best is my first thought. Easy when you can just stay quiet about it and enjoy the benefits within your world. But it’s more than that, isn’t it?

A guy wanted to be a monk and decided to join this one particular order. He had to take a vow of silence. He had to eat, sleep, work. That’s it.

A year goes by of this and he utters only two words. He says, “Food bad.”

At the end of his 2nd year, he says only two words. He says, “Bed hard.”

At the end of his 3rd year, he says, “I quit.”

His boss says, “Well it doesn’t surprise me. All you’ve done is complain.”

So how do we as Christians live our lives through faith? Are we like the guy who wanted to be a monk? Do we find ourselves complaining all the time? Do we begin to believe that Christianity isn’t all we thought it would be?

Paul began these scriptures with gratitude. He always started his letters with that. Except in Galatians. Sometimes we get bogged down in our misery that we forget how blessed we are. How much we have. Gratitude transforms our lives. It renews us. It heals us. It changes us. It’s okay to vent, but there’s a balance between venting and grumbling. So each day we need to look at why and what we’re grateful for.

With a heart of gratitude, we find that it helps to ground our life in prayer. How often do we see that Paul is a prayer advocate? Prayer keeps us ever so close to God. Each time we pray we find that we feel God’s presence with us. We can see things more clearly. Our burdens are shifted from our weak hands to the strong hands of our Father who is in heaven.

If we pray through hard times without ceasing it allows us to see how God works.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Here’s a list of how being grateful through prayer can affect us:

  1. We are mindful of others.
  2. We have more of a capacity for caring, sympathy, and compassion.
  3. Prayer helps our relationship with God.
  4. It gives us the ability to heap thanks on others.

Paul’s pattern is gratitude – prayer – encouragement. Paul says we can encourage each other.

How about those mean people? What about them? Must we even consider them? Can’t we simply ignore them? Well, the answer is no. No, we can’t. No, we mustn’t.

I wrote a book for children about dealing with difficult people—mean people if you will. The title you ask—Dealing with Margaret. Margaret Callahan was the worst person ever in the life of one Elizabeth Marie Hutchinson. In fact. Margaret Callahan was the worst person ever in most everyone’s life. And…she was the most popular. How does that even work? Meanest yet popular. Well, it worked for Margaret, and Elizabeth was challenged to find the good side of Margaret. How did she do it? You’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Mutual encouragement is huge. People need to know there is hope for their life.

The musical Tell It Like It Is by Ralph Carmichael and Kurt Kaiser is a 1969 vintage folk musical. Choirs and soloists can use this musical. It’s a musical about God. It speaks to who He is and how He reveals Himself to us. It also speaks to what God is like and the problems we experience when we’re confronted by others for believing in Him. The musical also gets into how God might reveal Himself through and in an individual by the person of Jesus Christ. The ending song in the musical, “Pass It On,” is a great song whose lyrics, It only takes a spark…to get a fire going, shows us how that one spark can lead to warmth. And, that’s how it is with God’s love. When you experience that kind of love it’s easy to spread it to whomever you meet.

We see in Paul’s letters that he wants to pass on the gratitude that’s necessary for everyone’s life. This is the true meaning of Thanksgiving. The doctrine of which the apostle Paul wrote, set forth the fulfillment of the promises by the prophets. It spoke of the Son of God, even Jesus the Saviour, the promised Messiah, who came from David as to His human nature but was also declared to be the Son of God, by the Divine power which raised Him from the dead.

The Christian profession consists of obedience. All those, and those only, are brought to an obedience of the faith, who are effectually called of Jesus Christ.

  1. The privilege of Christians; they are beloved of God, and are members of that body which is beloved.
  2. The duty of Christians; to be holy, hereunto are they called, called to be saints. These the apostle saluted, by wishing them grace to sanctify their souls, and peace to comfort their hearts, as springing from the free mercy of God, the reconciled Father of all believers, and coming to them through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The letter to the Romans opens with a greeting. Within the greeting, Paul is telling these people (Christians) that, in fact, he, Paul, has been called to be an apostle. He goes on to tell them that in return they are called to belong to Jesus Christ. With that calling, they are to also be holy.

Next, Paul speaks to his qualifications and how they make him qualified for this calling. He explains the gospel that he’s been commissioned to preach. As a way of introduction, Paul calls himself a servant. A slave of Jesus Christ. And we know that Jesus Christ was called by God to be an apostle. Meaning Paul was set apart for the gospel that comes from God.

Paul reminds the Christians that God’s son was foretold. He then goes on to talk about the resurrection of Jesus making Him Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul brings his message full circle as he writes about Jesus and how He lived and died as a human. But only through resurrection did he become Lord. From that Paul was able to receive grace and apostleship. Paul discovers his calling by the fact that he knew the risen Christ. It took Christ revealing Himself to Paul in a powerful way.

What do we see from the opening verses of our scripture in Romans? They tie together not only the coming of Jesus to Paul’s calling but also it ties together the calling of the Roman Christians. Paul makes it clear that he belongs to Jesus. He is under Jesus’ authority. Paul believes he has been called and assigned to this apostleship.

How do we begin to show gratitude? Do we only show it at Thanksgiving as we sit around a table filled with all the good foods that are always seen on the Thanksgiving table? Do we only show it when we sit in the pew at church? Where does gratitude begin in our lives?

First, we must give thanks in all circumstances. We must do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through Him. We must know that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. We must let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. Last but not least we must in every way and everywhere we accept these gifts from God we accept it with all gratitude—Thanksgiving.

I ask again: What does it mean to live a Christian life in today’s world? Difficult at best is my first thought.

Or we can be the F-R-O-GFully Relying On God.

And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!