Today’s sermon for all


Romans 15 & 16

Taking up where we left off last week, at Romans 15: 17 and following through chapter sixteen, Paul is writing his message to those in the Roman church but he is also writing to us as well. The Roman church was soon to undergo some terrible persecution as were many Christians in the Roman empire. Paul’s words of encouragement and hope helped those who were weak or new in their faith to bear up under the horrible ways which Emperor Nero would kill those who would not worship him.

17 I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. 18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, 19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.

Paul’s Plan to Visit Spain and Rome
(1 Corinthians 16:5-9)

23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; 24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. 25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. 26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. 28 When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. 29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.

30 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; 31 That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; 32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Paul is writing here as an evangelist with a purpose and it was Jesus Who gave him that purpose. The same Savior who saved us all, if we will only believe, saved the chief persecutor of “the Way” as it was called to begin with. Jesus uses some of the most unlikely ministers at times, God has used a donkey in the past to bring a word to a stubborn prophet as well, so nothing is impossible for God. Even when we try to limit Him with our own ideas about Him in this life, at some point God will show you Who He is and what He can do, if that is what it takes to get your attention.

Chapter 16 is the end of Romans as a book, but what a book it is. Written by a persecutor turned evangelist and one which wrote more than half of the New Testament which we all have today, most of it written from a prison cell.

In this final chapter of the book of Romans, Paul is giving credit to all of those in Christ who have helped him is his ministry. He salutes them with words like a brother or a proud father might, and in a way he is. Many of his helpers come from people or house-churches which  his preaching had started, or were members of those small congregations.

Paul ends his epistle with words of encouragement and love brought out in his soul by Christ:

Beginning with verse 17 we see this:

Avoid Divisions
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Greetings from Paul’s Companions
21 Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.

22 I Tertius, who wrote this epistle, salute you in the Lord.

23 Gaius mine host, and of the whole church, saluteth you. Erastus the chamberlain of the city saluteth you, and Quartus a brother. 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Doxology
(Romans 11:33-36; Jude 1:24-25)

25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: 27 To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen. {Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe servant of the church at Cenchrea.

So, you see in the ending of this epistle that Paul had many helpers who wrote for him when his hands could not. They carried the epistle to the churches which he could not go to in person due to chains or other restraints laid upon him. God used all of those around Paul who had been converted by his preaching very likely, God used them to further His Kingdom and these letters are still being used in the 21st century to bring others to Him. We are the fruit of much of Paul’s labors in Christ, the church today would not be what it is without God’s choosing of Paul to be His voice to the gentiles…us.

We are supposed to carry on this work in our lives, whether we are preaching to a congregation or to our families and friends with our life in Christ and the labor which we do in this life just by living out the ways taught in the Bible. This is the way of life, which so many early Christians who died for their faith, lived in front of those around them. It is also the life which we are called to live in Christ Jesus. Not living as if tomorrow is just a day, but that it may be the day that Jesus calls us home!

God uses even those of us who are weak in our faith, or believe ourselves to be, to carry out His purposes in our lives for Him and His Kingdom, not for our own gain in this life. We are to trade our life in Christ for bringing other lives into the Kingdom of God. How?

By living our Christian life as a reflection of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit one day at a time. People will notice, and whether they ask of you or not, if your walk with Christ is sincere then they will be drawn toward Him. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but when the Spirit touches their heart, they will because your witness for Christ doesn’t have to be in the sanctuary of a big church, but the sanctuary of life itself. Living our salvation and our walk with Jesus out one day at a time and one step at a time.

Which in truth is all that we can do.

Prayer for help in time of trouble


Psalm 13

How Long, O Lord?

{To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.}

(Habakkuk 1:1-4)

1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?

2How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

3Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

4Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

5But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.

6I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

When David was being chased by Saul and having to hide in caves and in the desert, he asked God “How long, O Lord?” Sometimes, when we are going through troubles and hardships it is the same feeling. How long, Lord? How much longer will I have to go through this?

It seems at times that God isn’t listening, but He is. He is just trying to teach you something or show you how strong you are as long as you and I depend upon Him in our weakness. If we try to do things on our own or make it through the tough times without leaning on Him, those tough times may last longer than they would have otherwise.

God’s not angry with us exactly. He doesn’t like the way that we are treating each other and ignoring Him. God loves us. Yet, we don’t care about His Son’s sacrifice nor does much of the world even acknowledge that He is God. He watches over our world and keeps everything going the way it should regarding our life-giving planet.

Satan is the prince of the air here on Earth because Adam gave it to him by disobeying God. Much of the destruction and hatred that we experience is because of Satan and his minions causing havoc all over the world. Not because it is fun but because they are trying to keep as many people from becoming Christians as they possibly can, in order to cause God pain.

Lean on Jesus in your hard times and don’t turn away from Him. Life is too short to be on the wrong side at the end, don’t you think?

Restraint


I read an article recently on American Family Association’s website about the most amazing thing about Jesus. It wasn’t referring to His power or His glory or the fact that He gave Himself as the one and only sacrifice needed to pay for ALL of humanity’s sins. It was speaking of His restraint. I am not going to quote from the article since I placed a link to it in the fourth word/link above, but I must say that I have never considered this point before.

Featured Image -- 3119The reason for His restraint of course is that He did not and He does not have a human nature even though He was born to a human woman. His nature is God’s nature. Therefore, when we think of what we would do in a particular situation and compare it to Him, it really doesn’t apply. What we would do with that kind of power would be destructive, but we are talking about the Creator! When God spoke, the Son created!

A thought or even a word from Him in any of His situations during the night and day of His scourging and crucifixion could’ve saved Him pain and anguish and death, but He chose to endure it because of His love for us! So, the incarnate Word of God could’ve saved Himself at any time but He didn’t. That is the part of His actions and His life which we just can’t understand. Our human mind and our nature just can’t imagine going through this with the power that He possessed. Thankfully, Jesus was as much God as He was human and He chose to follow God’s directions in everything that He did.

He still is doing this because until God tells Him to come get the Bride of Christ, He will stay in Heaven on the throne. We serve a risen Savior Who used His power as the Father told Him to when He was here the first time, but when He comes back He will be the Lion of the tribe of Judah! The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! His anger and His judgement will be coming with Him at that time and the whole world will know it. Amen!