LINK: Romans 15
Paul wrote the book of Romans when he was in Corinth of Greece (Achaia), after he'd left Ephesus, on his third missionary journey. He planned to return to Jerusalem with contributions made by the Greek believers to help the poor believers in Judea, who were most likely Jewish. He expected to come to visit those who believed in Rome, too, after his visit to Jerusalem, and on his way to Spain. He mentions all this in the last part of this chapter, to further support his teaching that there should be harmony between all believers, no matter what their background. The believers of Greece had sent the money from grateful hearts. Because they'd received the the spiritual blessing of the good news of Jesus through the Jews, they wanted to share their material blessing. Paul asked the Roman believers to pray that the Jewish Christians would be willing to receive the donation he was bringing.
I can't help but think about how Paul actually got to Rome - as a prisoner of the Roman emperor - not on another missionary journey. He asked the believers in Rome to pray for his safety and protection in Judea. God did protect Paul, even from a storm at sea, and got him to Rome, though probably not in the manner Paul expected.
Some highlights from this chapter:
We are to build each other up in faith, being considerate of each other's weaknesses, rather than serving ourselves. We don't do this to please people, but for God's glory. We are to live in harmony, focused on giving praise and glory to God.
God's word is given to us to encourage us! All those people and stories in the Old Testament teach us about God, that He keeps His promises. That helps us to wait more patiently ourselves, with hope, for the working out of the promises He's made us. Do you know God's promises? Are you confident that God's will is what is best for you?
Jesus fulfilled God's promise to the Jews. He also came so that the Gentiles could praise God. He unifies Jews and Gentiles. Paul quotes several Old Testament passages to show that God planned all along for Jesus to come for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews. He died that we might live - for God's glory.
What is your focus in your service? Is it to make yourself look good? Is it for the praise of others? How well do you get along with other believers? Are you willing to give up your preferences to help build others up spiritually - for God's glory?
Read this chapter prayerfully. If the reason for what you do has shifted from the glory of God to your own pride and service, refocus on who it is you are to glorify. For whom do you exist?
Immerse yourself in God's Word, which helps give encouragement and hope!
"I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in Him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."