Give Me Strength

What would your last words to someone be?  What advice would you give them? What would you long to say whilst you could?  What encouragement would you give?
These are Paul’s parting words to the Romans.  He has written a lot to them, but this is what he leaves them with:

Romans 16:17-27 (CEV)

17 My friends, I beg you to watch out for anyone who causes trouble and divides the church by refusing to do what all of you were taught. Stay away from them! 18 They want to serve themselves and not Christ the Lord. Their flattery and fancy talk fool people who don’t know any better. 19 I am glad that everyone knows how well you obey the Lord. But still, I want you to understand what is good and not have anything to do with evil. 20 Then God, who gives peace, will soon crush Satan under your feet. I pray that our Lord Jesus will be kind to you.

21 Timothy, who works with me, sends his greetings, and so do my relatives, Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater.

22 I, Tertius, also send my greetings. I am a follower of the Lord, and I wrote this letter.

23-24 Gaius welcomes me and the whole church into his home, and he sends his greetings.

Erastus, the city treasurer, and our dear friend Quartus send their greetings too.

Paul’s Closing Prayer

25 Praise God! He can make you strong by means of my good news, which is the message about Jesus Christ. For ages and ages this message was kept secret, 26 but now at last it has been told. The eternal God commanded his prophets to write about the good news, so that all nations would obey and have faith. 27 And now, because of Jesus Christ, we can praise the only wise God forever! Amen.

He warns them to beware of troublemakers, those who purposely put obstacles in the way and make life difficult.  For such people, it’s all about them and not about God, they want the attention – but they talk a good talk, and so a discerning ear is needed.  And a choice – between what is good and what is harmful.

That’s a choice for us all.  Are we swayed by those who have plenty of noise and bluster, but who are ultimately not rooted in God and what he asks?  Or are we wise to it, and able still to hear God’s voice?  Even worse, am I one of those people who causes divisions and wants everything my way, without necessarily thinking about what God wants?

But Paul’s final word, is a word of hope,

God can make you strong

when we waver, when we lose focus, when we are unsure of ourselves or of which is God’s way, he makes us strong.  When we realise we may have got it wrong and don’t know how we can turn things around, God can make us strong.  On our Lenten journey of wilderness, of self-examination, of time with God,

He will make us strong

Lord,
often I am weak,
unsure,
unclear;
I find it hard to hear you clearly.

Sometimes I want everything my way,
the way I like it,
the way I’m used to,
and I don’t always think about what you want.

Lord,
give me strength,
your strength,
to know the right way,
and do the right thing.

May I rely entirely on you

You Alone are my Strength

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