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?
July 27, 2018
WHO HAS BEEN SENT TO SHARE THE GOSPEL?
After concluding that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13), Paul described a series of logical steps necessary for someone to “call on” the Lord for salvation. He offered four steps in rhetorical question form (See Rom. 10:14):
1) “How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?”
2) “How can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?”
3) “How can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”
4) “How will anyone go and tell them without being sent?”
So, Paul’s list of questions leads us to the conclusion that unless someone is sent to share the gospel, people will not be able to call on the Lord for salvation. However, this difficulty has been overcome. For the Lord Jesus has said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21). So, Christ was sent by the Father and now every Christ-follower is sent by the Son. Every believer is an ambassador, a messenger sent by the Savior with the message of salvation.
Every believer has been sent to go and tell the good news that Jesus saves!
July 26, 2018
CHRIST, THE END GOAL OF THE LAW
Romans chapter 9 explained how God chose the Jews according to His own mercy and divine will, not according to any willing or working on their parts (Rom. 9:16). Now in chapter 10, Paul explains that even though God had selected the Jews to receive His law, and even more, that they were selected to be the people to which the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ, was given, this special selection of God did not negate the requirement that they must believe in Christ in order to be saved. Their selection did not negate their responsibility to believe.
Now everyone, whether Jew or Gentile, can be made right with God through faith in Christ Jesus, His Son.
July 25, 2018
GOD’S MERCY AND MAN’S WILL AND WORKS
God shows mercy according to His own will and according to His own character. It is not in response to man’s will and works, yet this does not negate man’s responsibility. God shows mercy, not out of obligation, nor any indebtedness to humanity. For God’s mercy is an attribute of God’s character and is directed by God’s perfect will.
God’s mercy is on display in the cross of Christ. For God demonstrated His love and mercy toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). So, God did this not in response to us, but according to His own love and mercy. However, this message of the cross, which is the gospel, still requires a faith response from us in order to be recipients of God’s mercy.
July 24, 2018
TRUSTING GOD’S GOOD PURPOSE FOR US
Are you facing a time of difficulty and wondering where God is today? Have you gone through a time of suffering and questioning how God can possibly allow it, much less, use it? Yet, God is sovereign. God is at work. He is making you like Jesus. That is His purpose for those who love Him and are called by Him. You can face any trial or trouble knowing that God will cause it ultimately to come together for His purpose, which is that you should “become like his Son” (Rom. 8:29).
So, don’t waste the pain. Don’t lean away, but lean into Jesus all the more. Trust God’s good purpose for your life.