PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you.
Jesus, We belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Romans 16:25–27 (NIV)
Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Now we come to the last mile of the marathon which has been Romans for us these four months. Yes, it’s been sixteen weeks, sixteen chapters, 7,114 words from Paul, and wrapped around that, 84,628 words from me. It is kind of like the Wake-Up Call has been my letter to you concerning Paul’s letter—more like my ninety letters (at five a week). Let’s be clear though, without this magnum opus letter of Paul, there are no letters from me. In other words, apart from the Word of God, I have nothing of consequence to say. Thank God for the Word of God. And all of this is to say, without Jesus, Paul has nothing of consequence to say . . . no letter to write, no church to encourage, or, as we would say on the farm, “no row to hoe.” With three little words Paul, as they say in gymnastics, “stuck the landing.”
Now to him . . .
All of this is all about Jesus.
Last week I enjoyed one of the signal honors of my life to date. I got to serve as the Bible teacher at the Vacation Bible School of the Gillett Methodist Church. Turns out it was the Vacation Bible School for the whole town of six hundred souls. Surprisingly, all six churches here work together as though they were one church. Anyway, we had about fifty kids from pre-school through fourth grade. My classroom turned out to be the nursery; a circle of tiny chairs with a little table in the middle. You should have seen me: I had a bag full of props and a bucket full of candy and yes a sack full of seeds. They cycled through in age-level groups. The thought struck me more than once during the evening sessions, “Why don’t we have Vacation Bible School for adults?” I guess that’s kind of what the Wake-Up Call is, right?
Anyway, on one of the evenings we were going over John 3:16. The second graders were zealously reciting it with me. One of them, in particular, Walker, was visibly moved by the verse.
“For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
As the verse ended, Walker raised his hand with an uncontainable urge to speak. As I recognized him, he said to the little circle of his peers and me, “Do you realize God gave his only Son? It was his ONLY Son. He didn’t have any daughters. He didn’t have any other sons. He didn’t have twins. It was his ONLY Son. Jesus was his only Son and He came for our salvation.” We all just kind of sat there for a minute, stunned, mesmerized by what the second-grader evangelist had said. I’ll never forget it.
Now to Him . . .
Now to him who is able . . .
Now to him who is able to establish you . . .
Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel,
That, my friends, is what we want. We want to be established in the gospel of Jesus Christ; the gospel who is Jesus Christ. This happens as these three words become the go-to words of our everyday lives.
Now to Him . . .
And those three words become six:
Now to him who is able . . .
And those six become more words than can be counted. Paul shows us the way. Let’s close it out with perhaps his greatest “Now to Him”:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph. 3:20–21)
Abba Father! Thank you for Jesus, for your only Son, for loving us so much that you sent him to us. We love you and now we would offer our lives to be sent into this world for you, with you, from you, and through you—for them. Now to him who is able. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.
And let us close with the immortal benediction from the apostle Jude,
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 1:24–25)
Now to him who is able . . . how do you fill in the rest of the sentence from your heart, home, church, and city today? Let’s go!
We sing choruses on Friday. In celebration of our completion of this leg of our journey through Romans together let’s sing two of the greatest choruses of all time—the Gloria Patri and the Doxology. They are hymns 33 and 682 respectively in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise. Let’s sing them in a spirit of great joy.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt