Today’s Reading: Romans 15-16
May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, HELP YOU LIVE in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. – Romans 15:5
Not a list of rules. Not a standard to live by. Not a measurement of our righteousness. God calls us to holy living by helping us to live a holy life. This is not of our strength, but of His; not to be done on our own but through the Holy Spirit living within us. Then we give into the urgings of the Spirit instead of the urgings of the sinful nature.
In chapter 15, Paul is instructing the Romans to live in complete harmony with each other, to accept one another. If we do this out of our human ability and despite our own opinions and perceptions of other people, we get the glory and most likely fail in the end. When we allow God to help us live this kind of life Paul is describing, God is glorified (5:7) and the body of Christ can succeed in living in harmony with each other.
I pray that God, the SOURCE of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope THROUGH the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
You hear the word “hope” thrown around a lot these days. It is one of my favorite words or concepts. We use the word “hope” throughout the ministry of Living Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center – hope for those facing an unplanned pregnancy when they come to us overwhelmed and scared, hope for the future of the mother and hope for the future of her unborn baby. We even named our parenting education program H.O.P.E. – Helping Others Parent through Education. Our website is www.hopeforafuture.com based on Jeremiah 29:11.
Why do we use this word as much as we use the word “life” – because we know that God is the only source of hope in her situation. If we can be there to help her trust in God for her future and the future of her unborn baby, He will fill her completely with joy and peace until she is overflowing with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. We see it happen every week – not of our strength or the result of our human effort but because of God’s help – to God be the glory!
I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. So I have reason to be enthusiastic about ALL CHRIST JESUS HAS DONE THROUGH ME in my service to God. Yet I dare not boast about anything except WHAT CHRIST HAS DONE THROUGH ME… – Romans 15:16b-18a
Paul goes on to show many examples of things God can do through us when we devote our lives to Him:
My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. – Romans 15:20
For you see, the believers in Macedonia and Achaia have eagerly taken up an offering for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. They were glad to do this because they feel they owe a real debt to them. Since the Gentiles received the spiritual blessings of the Good News from the believers in Jerusalem, they feel the least they can do in return is to help them financially. – Romans 15:26-27
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a deacon in the church in Cenchrea. Welcome her in the Lord as one who is worthy of honor among God’s people. Help her in whatever she needs, for she has been HELPFUL TO MANY and especially to me. – Romans 16:1-2
Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila…they once RISKED THEIR LIVES for me…also give my greetings to the church that MEETS IN THEIR HOME. – Romans 16:3-5
Give my greetings to Mary, who has WORKED SO HARD for your benefit. – Romans 16:6
Greet Ampliatus, my DEAR FRIEND in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our CO-WORKER in Christ, and my DEAR FRIEND Stachys. – Romans 16:8-9
…to dear Persis, who has WORKED SO HARD for the Lord. Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has BEEN A MOTHER TO ME. – Romans 16:12-13
God, we give today to you. We empty ourselves of our own attempts and our own strengths and abilities and ask that you fill us with your Spirit and work through us today. Help us to be open to however you want to use us, whether that’s working hard or giving generously to those in need or being helpful to many or simply helpful to one who really needs a friend or a co-worker in Christ today. Show us those who need us to be there for them today. May our life be defined today by ALL THAT CHRIST JESUS HAS DONE THROUGH US. Amen.