Paul's travel log
Sun, Oct 20, 2019
I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. - Romans 15:24-25 (ESV) Have you ever had a trip that didn't go like you expected? You had grand plans. Every detail was mapped out. Reservations were made and confirmed. But in the middle your plan suddenly took a detour. Maybe it was an accident. Maybe someone lost the reservation. Maybe the money wasn't there for the trip. How did you respond? How did it turn out? What did you learn? This week as Paul begins to close out the book of Romans, he tells the recipients of his upcoming travel plans. He hopes to go from Corinth to Jerusalem then out to Rome and on to Spain. This grand plan will have its challenges, especially traveling in the ancient world, but what could go wrong? I'd like to encourage you to read the last half of Romans 15. If you want to get a glimpse into how it worked to take a look at Acts 20-24. Along the way we can learn how God takes our plans and changes us for his Glory and our good.
Paul's plans for missions
Sun, Oct 13, 2019
. . . and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation, but as it is written, "Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand." - Romans 15:20-21 (ESV) Do you know what the 10-40 window is? Have you ever heard of 'unreached' or 'unengaged' people groups? Did you know that there are whole groups of people in the world that have never heard the gospel or the name of Christ? Did you know that they aren't just in some remote jungle somewhere? This week we begin to wind down our study of Romans as we look at the closing one and a half chapters. In this section Paul outlines his purpose, strategy, and plan to continue to spread the gospel throughout the world, names a few partners, and reminds them of some key issues. I want to encourage you to read Romans 15-16 as we close out our study. It's a good reminder of how and where we might engage in the mission of God and the spread of the gospel too.
Finding, joy, peace and hope in the Promises of God
Sun, Oct 06, 2019
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. - Romans 15:8-9 Reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament, can be odd. The majority of the story is about the Jews and their struggle to follow God. As Gentiles sometimes we don't know how we connect to the story. Is God even interested in us? Or are we just some kind of afterthought? In Romans 15, we have been exploring how we should relate to one another when we have differing points of view on non-essential issues, but some of these issue might be tied to culture. Paul addresses the differences and connection between Jews and Gentiles. He gives us a clear way to understand how we, non-Jews, fit into God's purposes and plans. Take a few minutes to read through Romans 15 and see where we fit into God's plan. See if you can discover what knowing and trusting in this plan produces. Hint: Check out verse 13!
Pursuing Unity
Sun, Sep 29, 2019
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 15:5-6 (ESV) We tend to have our list of really bad sins. We are careful to avoid those. Often we don't even want to talk about them, but if we do talk about them, we point them out in others and in our world to gawk at their failure. When God provides us a list of sins, he includes some we don't like to see. In His list of the deeds of the flesh (Gal 5:19-21) there are are normal 'bad' sins, but He also includes things like - strife, jealousy, dissension, and divisions. Almost half of the list is taken up with our relational and interactions with other people. It seems like our unity and living at peace with the people around us is a much bigger deal than we usually acknowledge. This week as we head into Romans 15, we will look at this issue of Unity. We have been thinking about the differences between us when it comes to debatable issues, but what holds us together? And why is that not only important but vital to the work of God both in us and through us?
Stumbling Into Loving Unity
Sun, Sep 22, 2019
Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. - Romans 14:13 (ESV) One of the persistent problems in church is self-righteousness. We easily recognize that in the New Testament. The Pharisees are the easily despised villains of the gospels. They go around spending time looking religious and looking down on those that don't, but they are driven by position, power, and pride. We would like to think we have nothing in common with them. In all honesty, the longer we are in church the easier it seems to look down on newbies. We measure holiness not by God's standard but our own achievements. The 'bad' sins are the ones we don't struggle with, at least openly. So when it comes to the grey areas or the places that people differ, this attitude often reveals itself. We are the the enlightened ones. We are the 'good Christians'. Paul calls us to think differently. One thing is to dominate our thinking and actions toward those around us. I want to encourage you to read through Romans 14 and see if you can discover that one thing.
Provision For The Soul
Sun, Sep 15, 2019
Though he slay me, I will hope in him; yet I will argue my ways to his face. This will be my salvation, that the godless shall not come before him. - Job 13:15-16 (ESV) So today is Friday the 13th. It's the day that no one is supposed to feel lucky. Fortunately, for you our family celebrated it a week early, so none of you have anything to worry about. It's been quite a week around here... Seriously if we believe God, we know that He is the one who rules over everything including both the universal story and our personal one. In the trenches of life, that is often hard to see and harder to understand. Awful things happen to us. Evil things are done. Life falls apart. Permanent damage is done. How do we try to understand this? What do we do when the pieces of life don't fit? This week we have the opportunity to look into the life of a man who seemed to be living Friday the 13th over and over and over. His name was Job. In looking into his story we can not only see his struggle, but also how we can get our bearings as we struggle in our tragedies. I'm looking forward to hear my friend, Jim Dietz open up the Word for us. Jim ministered many years ago alongside my father, and has since held positions as a pastor, seminary professor, and now a chaplain.
Calibrating Your Conscience
Sun, Sep 08, 2019
The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. - Romans 14:22-23 (ESV) In the classic Disney movie, on his journey to become a real boy, Pinocchio is given a guide and friend Jiminy Cricket, who is to be his living conscience. This little creature is there throughout the move to advise, direct, and warn. At various times he is heeded and ignored. In the end, we are left with the classic phrase, 'Let your conscience be your guide.' But is that good advice? Should we be listening to our conscience? Will it every steer you wrong? What happens if we consistently ignore it? Or what happens if it constantly makes us feel guilty? This week I want to take a week to look at this concept though a Biblical lens. This is a critical question in exploring the idea of weak and strong faith and in dealing with debatable and non-essential issues as Paul does in Romans 14. Why not take a few minutes to read back through Romans 14 to remind yourself of the passage and think of some times where you struggled with your own conscience.
Sun, Sep 01, 2019
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. - Acts 2:44–47 (ESV) There are some amazing pictures for what God does when He saves us. He redeems us. He frees us. He rescues us. He pays our debt. He adopts us. The first few lets us see what God has done for us and between Him and us. However, that final one adds another dimension. We are called, not only to Him, but also into a family. We (together) are His kids. We are going to talk about this idea this coming weekend. Mickey Counter will be opening God's Word to challenge us about our need to not only be connected to God through Christ, but be connected to each other because of Christ. One of the ways we do that at Hope is through Community Groups. Community Groups are smaller gatherings of households who meet regularly for study, encouragement, prayer, and outreach. We want to challenge everyone to make this type of connection with other believers at Hope.
Real Unity
Sun, Aug 25, 2019
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. - Romans 14:1–3 (ESV) For what was supposed to be a group founded on love and should be characterized by unity, we seem to be highly skilled at dividing. We seem to do it over a lot of things. We group together with other Christians that think like we do, school like we do, vote like we do, do culture like we do, eat and drink like we do. And on and on and on goes the list. Honestly, sometimes I look around at the greater church and think God has to be in this somewhere because only He could possibly hold this thing together, and only He could make it even close to fulfilling its mission. How do we think about and live in these differences? Should we just get into our self-perpetuating groups? Or do we just become people with fluid convictions that don't really stand for anything? Is there a core we can't lose? The next few weeks we are going to look at Romans 14-15. The Roman church was far from monolithic. They were made up of Jews, former idol worshipers, slaves, and more. They thought differently about their faith and what it meant to live it out. Paul wanted them to wrestle with the application and implications of the gospel he had presented. As we do this I want to challenge you to think about your own assumptions of living out the Christian life. I want to you to consider what will bind Hope Church together. Take a few minutes and read through Romans 14-15 to prepare your heart and mind for Sunday.
The Gospel Applied
Sun, Aug 18, 2019
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) Last week we spent time on the ground floor of the 'Gospel Museum' checking out the beauty and truths of the beginning of Romans. We looked at 5 important words - Guilty, Representation, Justification, Faith, and Assurance. These words helped us explore the truth that God has 'justly justified the unjust'. What amazing grace! These truths are not just ethereal, theological distant realities, but these are truths with effect on our relationship to God, each other, and the world. As Paul transitions from the bottom floor of the gospel to the top floor we being to see those implications. Join us this Sunday as we review some of those implications. This review will prep us as we head back into Romans 14 soon. Maybe along the way you have lost the big picture, or maybe you weren't here at the start and don't know where we have been. This week is for all of us to review, catch up, and get up to speed before we launch in chapter 14.
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