Day 133: Paul’s Mission

Romans 15:17-21

I have therefore my boasting in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to God. For I will not dare to speak of any things except those which Christ worked through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of God’s Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and around as far as to Illyricum, I have fully preached the Good News of Christ; yes, making it my aim to preach the Good News, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build on another’s foundation. But, as it is written,

“They will see, to whom no news of him came.
They who haven’t heard will understand.”

Paul boasted in Christ Jesus and made it a point not to be the topic of his own ministry. He was extremely focused, however and provides us an excellent example to follow in Christian service.

Notice that Paul won’t “dare to speak of any things except those which Christ worked through” him. It was extremely important that God’s work not be polluted by any discussion about the great works of Paul. Notice that only what God does through Paul counts. That’s the same for all of us. Jesus is the attraction, we are the servants who do what we have been asked.

Paul stayed focused on his mission that he explains here. He says that he was to speak and do the things God wanted him to do which did include miracles, but they were done by the Holy Spirit’s power. Paul takes absolutely no credit whatsoever. He makes it clear that he is living in obedience and that he has been going around to different places, performing the ministry of a foundation builder.

God didn’t want Paul to go and build churches where someone else had already been. His job was to go where no one else had ever gone and he took it very seriously. He didn’t want any credit, but wanted us to be a witness of his obedience to God’s command. Paul wants us to follow his example, not praise him as if he were superhuman. He makes it very clear that he was a man who allowed the Holy Spirit to work through him. Whatever God calls us to do, we should also do in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Day 132: Focused on the Gospel

Romans 15:14-16

I myself am also persuaded about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish others. But I write the more boldly to you in part, as reminding you, because of the grace that was given to me by God, that I should be a servant of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest the Good News of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Paul admits, here, that he was pretty strong in his talk to the Romans, but he also says that he was aware that they were already doing what was right. I think that Paul wanted to explain why he preached so strongly about these things even though they were being good. He explains that he told them these things because that was the job that God had given him to do.

I am very grateful that Paul did this particular job because now we benefit from what he wrote.

Notice that Paul calls this message in Romans the Good News or “Gospel.” This letter holds the parts of Christianity that are non-negotiable. You can’t say you are a Christian and choose not to accept these things. These are the things that all of us, as Christians, are supposed to agree on. These are the things that form the foundation of Christianity and that can never be changed.

It is important for us to recognize Christian fundamentals because there are those who attempt to change Christianity. Some even think that they are updating it somehow, but that is not necessary. Romans tells us that it is Christianity that must stay the same and, instead, people should be changed by it. There is only one way to be made acceptable to God and that is by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul wanted to do his job well and present Gentiles to God in an acceptable way.

Day 131: A Firm Belief About The Future

Romans 15:13

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Notice how important hope is to Paul? Hope is very interesting because it is a mental focus on something we don’t currently have. Paul tells us here that peace and joy coming from this hope.

Notice that real joy and peace can’t come from anything this world has to offer, including wealth. With hope, we can have peace joy now by simply believing! We can know that our current circumstances will change for the better. The Holy Spirit brings the truth to mind and causes us to “abound in hope.” This was a deep wish that Paul had for those of us who heard his message about the grace of God.

God is a God of hope and when we have faith in Him, He gives joy and peace that comes from a strong belief about the future. Hope like this changes our lives and influences the lives of others.

This verse reminds me of some important things about our hope of the future. Paul has talked to us about sin and the punishment that we deserve. Then he told us that Jesus had paid for that sin and made us righteous. Then he told us that we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us to live a good life. Finally, we learn that we are children of God and have a whole different future than those who are not children of God.

Day 130: Jewish Jesus, a Hope to Gentiles

Romans 15:8-12

Now I say that Christ has been made a servant of the circumcision for the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises given to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore will I give praise to you among the Gentiles,
and sing to your name.”
Again he says,

“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles!
Let all the peoples praise him.”
Again, Isaiah says,

“There will be the root of Jesse,
he who arises to rule over the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”

This passage explains one of the biggest reasons I love the Jews. The Jews remind me of Jesus, the one that God sent to live as “a servant of the circumcision.”

Jesus had to follow the Law and then die as if He didn’t in order to save me. He had to do the things He did because God promised that He would. Jesus was perfectly obedient and He proved that the Law of the Jews was perfect and good, exactly as it was given to them.

Most of all, Jesus displayed God’s amazing grace to me, a sinner. That is why I praise Him. I am a fulfillment of these prophesies and I am evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. You are a fulfillment of prophesy too if you believe in Jesus.

Day 129: Accept Each Other Just Like Jesus

Romans 15:4-7

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that through patience and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now the God of patience and of encouragement grant you to be of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore accept one another, even as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God.

For some reason we get the wrong idea about God. Even though we read here that He is a God
“of patience and of
and many other things like this in the Bible, we are prone to think of God as an intolerant, angry person. God hates sin and loves justice, but that doesn’t mean that He is not patient and hoping and hoping that we will come to Him and avoid punishment. For example, He has allowed over 2,000 years to pass since Jesus died on the cross to allow people to come to Him.

There are a lot of rules in the Bible, but those rules were intended to encourage us by bringing us to Jesus, and He is the only one who is able to follow them all. The fact is, the Bible pointed to Jesus all along. Jesus is the one that the Bible is all about and this is a very encouraging thing.

Paul has been talking about how to get along when we have disagreements and here he tells us to learn to be like God, filled with patience and encouragement. This is exactly the kind of thing that people who are still learning about God need. We should be of the same mind in that we all should have in our minds the desire to give out patience and encouragement.

Jesus accepted us when we were less than perfect and He did it “to the glory of God.” That’s what we should do too.

Day 128: Bearing Our Sin Wasn’t Pleasant

Romans 15:1-3

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, to be building him up. For even Christ didn’t please himself. But, as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”

I think that it is safe to interpret this to mean that Jesus didn’t find pleasure in dying for our sin. In fact, the Bible tells us that he despised the shame of it. This may come as a bit of a shock to some, but we need to be careful here. Jesus didn’t despise saving us, but bearing our sin was the despicable requirement. It would be wrong for any perfect man to desire to be sin before God. There is nothing good about being sinful in the presence of a Holy God, especially if you love God like a father. We made Jesus do something horrible because of our sin and there is no way to glorify it. It was dirty and ugly. The only pleasure we read about regarding Jesus death in the Bible, was that God was pleased to crush Him. This is because Jesus was wearing our sin and it was good to punish it!

We may not feel good temporarily giving up some of our freedom in order to help a weaker brother, but it will never add up to the reproach that Jesus had to bear to die for us. Jesus’ example gives us no room to live selfishly. Instead, we need to “bear with the weaknesses of the weak.” We can do this in the Holy Spirit, remembering the mercy that has been given to us.

Day 127: A Question of Conscience

Romans 14:22-23

Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who doesn’t judge himself in that which he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because it isn’t of faith; and whatever is not of faith is sin.

I don’t think that this version of the Bible brings out the intent of the passage as well as some others. I don’t think I fully understood this verse until I looked at it using the word “conviction” instead of “faith.” I like how it is put in the New Living Translation:

Romans 14:22-23 (New Living Translation – NLT)

You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

I personally experienced a breakthrough when I considered this passage recently. I realized that, although something may not be wrong before God, if I believe it to possibly be wrong, I shouldn’t do it. I believe that this is the basis for what Paul has been saying in this chapter. The world tries to encourage people to ignore their conscience or to put it down as a kind of evil. Christianity holds conscience high and says that even if it isn’t really wrong, obey your
conscience anyway.

We can actually invent new ways of sinning by taking a good thing, believe it to be wrong, and then do it anyway. That really is sin according to what we read here. This is why we absolutely must support weak believers who think that something is wrong that the Bible doesn’t say is wrong. If they think it is wrong, then to them it is! We destroy God’s work in the conscience of the new believer if we encourage them to disobey their conscience.

In my life, I have found two ways in which I have caused damage to my conscience. One way is to believe something is wrong and then attempt to do it anyway because someone else said I shouldn’t worry about it. The other is to fail to do something that I believe is right to do when others don’t think it is necessary. They may be right; it may not be a real rule in the Bible, but for them to not support me in the following of my conscience is to help cause me harm. This discovery helped me understand these verses:

Acts 24:16

Herein I also practice always having a conscience void of offense toward God and men.

1 Timothy 1:19

holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust away made a shipwreck concerning the faith;

It is my responsibility to follow my conscience, even if others don’t care.