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Showing posts from August, 2023

Romans 15:33: May The God of Peace Be With You All. Amen.

Romans 15:33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. (ESV) This simple benediction from the Apostle Paul is powerful for us all. We all long for peace. What is peace? Some would define peace as the absence of war or some other kind of conflict. For that kind of peace I am afraid that we are going to have to wait. The absence of all war and conflict would necessitate an end to sin's presence entirely. There is such a place where sin is not present. That is in heaven. There is a great blues song that includes the line, "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." We would all like to experience peace, but we are not anxious to die this very minute in order to experience this perfect peace. Is there any peace this side of heaven? Of course. This is the very peace that Paul is referencing here in this verse. He is praying that the God of peace would be with the people in Rome. Notice that the peace Paul is offering comes in the form of God himself. He prays

Romans 15:32: So That By God's Will I May Come To You With Joy

  Romans 15:32 So that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. (ESV) The Apostle Paul was looking forward to coming to Rome to be refreshed in their company. He had joy in his heart as he pondered the thought of being with God's people. As we know Paul made it to Rome. He did not go for refreshment. He went in chains. So what do we do with this phrase in the beginning of verse 32, "By God's will." Was it God's will that Paul go to Rome as a prisoner? Many people have a view of God that if something good or desirable happens it is of God. If the circumstances are unpleasant they are clearly the devil's doing. They argue that God could not possibly be the author of things that are harmful. After all, he loves his children. He would only want what is best for them. He would never want us to encounter struggle. I would argue that Scripture teaches us that it was God's will for the Apostle Paul to go to Rome. It was also God&#

Romans 15:31: That I May Be Delivered From the Unbelievers In Judea . . .

Romans 15:31 That I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, (ESV) There is an old song that has the lyrics, "You always hurt the ones you love." In the Apostle Paul's case a song could be written that would say, "You always get hurt by the ones you love." Paul was a Jew. He loved his people. In every city he would preach the Gospel to the Jews first, then the Gentiles. The thanks he received for his message of God's love was to be attacked in every city by the ones he loved. This is why Paul says that he is hoping to be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea. Paul is seeking for prayer from the believers in Rome that God would deliver him from these unbelieving Jews. However, it is clear that whether the Jews attack him or not, he will not be stopped in his efforts of bringing an offering for the saints in Jerusalem. He will go, no matter what happens as a result. The service that Pa

Romans 15:30: I Appeal To You, Brothers . . . Strive Together With Me In Your Prayers

Romans 15:30 [30] I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, (ESV) There are times when someone will tell you of their particular problems. Perhaps they have been diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. Maybe they have lost a child to a drug overdose. It could be a loved one who does not know the Lord that a person is concerned about. What is our response? I'll pray for you. I fear that many times we say, with good intention, that we will pray. But we don't. The Apostle Paul is making an appeal for prayers on his behalf. In the next verse he will tell them his specific concerns. In his appeal for prayer he says something quite interesting. He asks them to strive together with him in prayers to God. The NIV translation puts it this way: "Join me in my struggle by praying for me." Churches are notorious for struggling. Too often they are struggling with one anothe

Romans 15:29: I Know That When I Come To You I Will Come In The Fullness Of The Blessing Of Christ.

Romans 15:29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. (ESV) We love the idea of the word, "blessing." There is not a person on earth that does not want to receive some sort of blessing. In many churches today it is preached that if you do good, if you obey God, if you are a good rule follower, God will be obligated to bless you. In fact, they quite often refer primarily to financial blessings. This helps these churches to have controlled people who keep coming back hoping for money. Is that what the Apostle Paul has in mind when he talks about blessing? I hardly think so. Paul was one who knew what it was like to suffer. In his second letter to the church at Corinth he recounts all of the times he has been "blessed" with beatings, being stoned, shipwrecked, on the run from danger, without food, without clothing, and even being stressed about how the churches are doing whom he cared for. The blessing that the Apostle Paul

Romans 15:28: When Therefore I Have Completed This...

Romans 15:28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. (ESV) The Apostle Paul is putting together his itinerary for his trip to Jerusalem and where he will be going afterward. He is delivering this financial gift to the saints in Jerusalem that he has collected from the many churches where he has preached the Gospel. He writes to the church at Rome of his intentions to come and see them on his way to Rome. It is interesting to note that Paul had not yet been to Rome. It was his longtime desire to visit them, but he wrote this letter to them before ever having met them. The church was started by folks who came and preached the Gospel after they received it on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Paul's clear intent is to go to Rome, on his way to Spain. I am sure there was great excitement in his heart as he made these plans. We do well to make plans. However, we recognize that God is sovereign over every

Romans 15:27: For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them.

  Romans 15:27 [27] For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. (ESV) The Apostle Paul was a missionary to the Gentiles. He loved his own people, the Jews. He desired for them to know the Lord Jesus as Messiah. But, God used Paul strategically to be the one who delivered the Gospel to people who were not Jews. We should remember that Jesus himself said that "salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22). Those in Macedonia and Achaia were anxious to contribute financially to those believers who were in need in Jerusalem. Paul says here in verse 27 that they "owe" the Jews in Jerusalem. So, it is only fitting for them to give to meet their material need. The reason that these Gentile believers owed their brothers in Jerusalem is that it was Jewish believers sent from Jerusalem that brought them the life-changing Gospel! Oc

Romans 15:26: For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution . . .

Romans 15:26 [26] For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. (ESV) The fact that Macedonia is pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem is an example of what the work of the Gospel does in people's hearts. Jesus redeems us from sin, and empowers us to have a heart of compassion for others. We go from being needy to meeting needs. This was the case in Macedonia and also the case in our lives.  For a little background, look at Acts 16:9. This is where we find the Apostle Paul's first engagement with Macedonia. It is in a vision! Luke writes this account:  "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” The Apostle Paul obediently went to Macedonia, bringing them the life changing message of the Gospel. Philippi and Thessalonica were located in Macedonia. These are places where