Savoring Summer #38: Quadruplets

IMG_2627 edit.jpg“Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in prayers to God on my behalf.” (Romans 15:22)

Is there an any more beautiful thing than when the body of Christ, one in spirit, strives together in prayer for one another?  Today, I want you to know that I am praying for you who will read this, that “the God of peace be with all of you.” (Romans 15:33)  

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo: You knew the resident swans were going to make their annual appearance on the blog at some point, didn’t you?  I know you can’t quite see them all here, but there are four cygnets this year!

Savoring Summer #37: Waterfall of Grass

IMG_2278 edit.jpg“Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves.  Each one of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.  For even Christ did not please himself.” (Romans 15:1-3)

These days, there’s so much emphasis on self-care, and self-promotion, and setting boundaries, and “doing what’s right for you”.  These have their place, certainly, but it’s easy to cross the line from taking good care of yourself to simply being self-centered and self-serving.

We are actually called to live thoughtfully of others before ourselves.  

I imagine it like us going on a family hike.  Which is to say, we go as fast as the four-year-old can go.  Of course, my husband and I are quite capable of going twice her speed—and there are times when we kind of wish we could.  Yet, we slow our steps, wait for her when she falls behind, take her hand to help her along.   We set aside our strength and bear with her weakness because we love her.

“Love does not seek its own.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!IMG_1464 editAbout the photo: I always admire the way this particular variety of grass gracefully and naturally bends.  I’m not as up on my grass identification, so if anyone can tell me what kind of grass it is, please comment and let me know!

Savoring Summer #36: Cotton Candy Clouds

IMG_2488 edit.jpg“So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another…It is a good thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble.” (Romans 14:19, 21)

There’s a lot that could be said about today’s passage, but I think the best thing to do with it is to set aside the excuses that so quickly rise, and read it prayerfully, asking the Spirit put His finger on how this might mean change or growth in your life.

I know I was convicted!

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo: I just have to say that one of my very favorite things about summer is the clouds.  

Savoring Summer #35: Glorious Morning

IMG_2377 edit.jpgMemory verse: “For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”” (Romans 10:13)

The fifth and final step on the Romans Road is about the assurance we can have of salvation!

P.S. See this post if you’re unfamiliar with the Romans Road!  Also, see this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

Savoring Summer #34: Sunny Leaves

IMG_1471 edit.jpg“The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10)

Looking back over what I’ve read in Romans this last week, there was SO many wonderful passages.  But this is one that stood out to me, because it spoke to specific situations I was watching unfold, in which good-hearted, well-intentioned people were using their feelings to justify the condoning of sin.

There’s a lot of confusion out there about the meaning of the word “love”.  There’s confusion about what “love your neighbor as yourself” means.  Many people, riding on the wave of their own personal subjective emotions, conclude that loving one another means that feelings  (“love”) trump “the law” (by which we mean what God clearly states in His Word as right or wrong).  But here, it’s clearly stated: love does not cancel out the law, nor does the law negate the command to love.  Instead, they walk hand in hand to FULFILL each other.

If you’re reading along with me, were there any verses that specifically spoke to you this last week?

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

Savoring Summer #33: Seed Explosion

IMG_2339 edit“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” (Romans 14:2-3)

This is not a verse that is talking about black and white right versus wrong.  Paul covered that earlier in the book (remember? I referenced it here.)

This is a verse talking about personal differences in opinion over things that are not clearly black and white in the Scriptures. Like…wearing masks versus not wearing masks during a pandemic, a very hotly debated topic in church and out of it.  This is such a good current example, because I’ve heard a lot of judgement being thrown around in both directions. 

People shaming mask wearers for “giving in to fear” or “giving in to overt government control”. 

People shaming non-mask wearers, saying they don’t care about people dying, and are therefore basically murderers.

Okay, ya’ll.  Wherever you stand on this, here are your instructions: “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (vs. 5-6)

Research it, make sure what you’re doing and how you’re doing it truly honors the Lord, then stand firm in your convictions.  Ask loving questions if you’re curious, and engage in kind discussion, but don’t “quarrel over opinions” (vs.14) and ultimately respect the brother or sister who somehow managed to come to a complete opposite conclusion.

“…why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God…so then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)

(And, of course, masks make a good contemporary illustration here, but I’m sure you’ll have no problem inserting other scenarios!)

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo: Don’t these yellow goat’s beard seed heads just remind you of 4th of July fireworks along the fields and ditches right now?!

Savoring Summer #32: Blue Heron

IMG_2253 edit.jpg“Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.” (Romans 13:13)

As we celebrate our country’s birthday, let’s thank God for the good leaders through the years who have had the vision to found and guide our country according to what is true and right.  And even when we don’t agree with our governing authorities, it’s good to be reminded that they are ultimately placed there by God, and if only for this reason alone, deserve our respect.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:13-17)

Also remember: it’s easy to criticize leadership, but not so easy to BE in leadership.  The higher up you are, the greater the pressure and heavier the weight of responsibility.  So in addition to honoring and submitting, let’s not forget to do this:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour…” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

Savoring Summer #31: Strawberry Babies

IMG_2285 edit.jpg“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

Ah, I love today’s passage from Romans, with all its pointed little nuggets of instruction for living well.  It was hard to pick just one, when they’re all so good.  Seems to me you could sit and meditate on each of these verses all day long all by itself!

But I like the way this one exhorts us to action in response to evil, instead of the easier and more tempting option of pulling into our safe shells.  In battle terms, it’s not telling you to simply stay on the defensive, huddle in your fortress and keep evil at bay with a few well-placed arrows.  It’s telling you to sally forth on the offensive, right into the battlefield, and win back the ground that evil is taking.

Of course, using the correct weapon (“good”) is key here.  There are a lot of well-meaning people who somehow get the idea that they are somehow justified in combating evil WITH evil.  It starts, for example, when we’re little, thinking that slapping the little sister who took our toy is going to somehow “solve” the problem.  When we’re adults, we justify: “I can make a snide/gossipy/sarcastic/hurtful remark about THAT person behind their back, because they did THIS to me!”  It actually multiplies the problem instead of eradicating it, but that’s where Satan too often has us blinded and fooled.

Let’s take the challenge of this verse and not let him get by with that anymore!

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo: Look what I found while picking strawberries!

Savoring Summer #30: Freshwater Clam

IMG_2248 edit.jpg“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

But oh, but how this “age” (or “world” or “pattern/standard of this world” in other translations) we live in begs for us to conform, and how quickly and easily our minds are clouded by its alluring priorities, causes, and agendas!

Something that stood out to me in this verse that hadn’t really before:  it suggests that perhaps the first step to understanding the will of God—something many, many people desire—is to check on your conformity versus transformity status.  Hmmm…

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

Savoring Summer #29: Black-Eyed Susans

IMG_2190 edit.jpg“Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counselor?

And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid?

For from him and through him and to him are all things.

To him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36)

I love how this is subtitled “A Hymn of Praise” in my Bible, as Paul beautifully sums up how he feels about the complex, mysterious, yet wonderful things he had expounded on thus far. 

I think this would be the perfect hymn to turn to both when when you are in complete awe of God, and when you believe yet are struggling to understand.

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!