August 3, 2018
DID PAUL GO TO SPAIN?
What we know from Scripture is that Paul did indeed visit Rome, carried there to appear before Caesar under Roman guard. According to the final verses in Acts (Acts 28:30-31), Paul was held under house arrest in Rome for two years awaiting trial, yet had great freedom to preach and teach about Jesus while there. But Scripture is silent on what happened next.
From the writings of early church fathers such as Clement, who wrote around 95 AD, Paul was apparently released after two years in Rome and was able to journey to Spain before being brought back to Rome and being beheaded by Nero around the year 67 AD. While there is little certainty about whether Paul was able to carry the gospel to Spain, the fact that Clement’s writings are only 30 years afterwards lends credence to the possibility.
I like to think that the Lord allowed Paul to take one more journey to a place where the gospel had not yet been heard before completing his earthly journey. At any rate, I am moved by the passion the Spirit had given Paul to obey the Great Commission and to make disciples of all nations.
August 1, 2018
CONFIDENT HOPE FILLED WITH JOY AND PEACE
This hope for which Paul prays is not the stuff of wishes and wants, but of sterner stuff, made sure by the Lord Himself. It is hope that rejoices as it looks forward with confidence to an eternal future with Christ. This hope is like a rope, anchored on one end by the truth of Christ’s resurrection and passing beyond the veil to be anchored in the promise of Christ’s sure return. Those who trust in Christ overflow with this confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Do you know this confident hope today?
July 31, 2018
AIMING FOR HARMONY IN THE CHURCH
Literally, Paul said that believers are to “pursue peace” and “edify” one another. Yet, the NLT’s use of the word “harmony” here is appropriate, because it captures Paul’s desire to preserve unity in the church, while allowing for diversity of individual conscience. The point of harmony in music is that different parts, such as soprano, alto, tenor and bass, may be sung, yet they sound unified and beautiful together. Similarly, even though Christians from a Jewish background may follow a kosher diet, they shouldn’t expect believers from a Gentile background to do the same. They both should seek to sing praises to Jesus Christ, even though they may do so in a unique voice.
Paul wanted to make it clear that Gentiles didn’t have to become Jewish in order to become Christians. They didn’t have to celebrate the same holidays, nor eat the same foods. These were cultural distinctives and matters of the conscience, not necessities of the faith. Paul warned believers not to major in the minors, as it were. Don’t focus on disputable matters which divide, instead focus on that which will build one another up in Christ.
Romans 14 is a profound instruction for those that would obey the Great Commission to make disciples of “all nations.” For we are not called to make Americans, or Southerners, but disciples of Jesus Christ. Our pursuit is unity around the gospel of Jesus and building one another up to maturity in Him.
July 30, 2018
LOVE FULFILLS THE LAW
Paul worked out the implications of what it means to love one’s neighbor by naming four of the Ten Commandments (“Thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, steal nor covet”), and concluding that love fulfills them and all other such commandments. The positive commandment to “love thy neighbor” fulfills all the negative commandments not to wrong others.
Loving one another is the mark of the redeemed community. For Jesus taught that we are to “love one another as He has loved us and that by this everyone will know that we are His disciples” (John 13:34-35).
July 29, 2018
TWO MARKS OF THE NEW COMMUNITY IN CHRIST
In Romans 12, Paul described how those who have offered their bodies as a living sacrifice and have received a transformed mind that knows God’s will, should live with each other. In verse 10, Paul gave two marks of how people with this new mind should live with each other in this new community of believers. The two marks are love and honor. These two marks might be considered as summary of how believers are to feel (“love”) and think (“honor”) towards one another. The members of this new community are to love each other with “genuine” or brotherly affection, as members of God’s family. They are to feel towards one another like a loving family. As they come together, they are to “delight in honoring each other,” esteeming each other as better than themselves.
This new community of members who love and honor each other is the body of Christ, which is the church. They feel and think towards each other as the Spirit within enables them. Has your mind, your emotions and thoughts towards one another, been transformed, so that you love and honor each other?
July 28, 2018
TO WHOM ARE YOU SENT?
Although Paul had spent a considerable amount of time in his letter to the Romans addressing how the gospel was first given to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, he reminded the Gentiles of his calling to them. For Paul was an “apostle,” literally meaning, “one sent,” as Christ’s ambassador to the Gentiles. As a Jew, Paul had obeyed Christ’s instruction in Acts 1:8 to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth. Paul had followed that order of priority in his witness. Yet, it soon became clear to him that he was called to “the ends of the earth,” to reach the Gentiles nations.
So, we’re called to start in our Jerusalem, our hometown with our family, sharing the gospel. Yet, ultimately we too are called to carry the gospel to the nations. Is there a certain people group that the Spirit has put on your heart? Go to the Joshua Project website (joshuaproject.net) and pray over the unreached people groups, asking the Lord to give you direction. Is there a UPG that the Lord would have your pray, give and go to reach?