Good morning and again welcome home.
As we make our way through Paul’s closing remarks, our text lends itself to some degree of teaching. Is it ok if I do some teaching today?
My big idea for today is each of has a ministry that might not ever be realized if we don’t ask God to reveal it. My prayer for us today is that by hearing this message that we are brought in tune and encouraged to take a purposeful role in the kingdom of God. If you have your Bibles today you can join me as we turn to, you guessed it Romans Chapter 15 starting at verse 23.
But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.Romans 15:23-29
In order to help me share with you today, I have separated my thoughts into 3 sections or points. Paul is reminding us of 3 examples that he wants us to follow. He is invoking the leadership of a spiritual mentor and giving instruction, again based on his own example. Let’s take a look at my first point.
We Must Be Intentional in the Ministry of the Word
But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.Romans 15:23-24
Paul’s plan was to go to the Synagogues to preach the risen Messiah to the Jews (First the Jews and then the Gentiles). Then he would find areas where he could engage in conversations with the Gentiles and many were saved. Then he would stay awhile to build the community of believers and establish a church (not a building but a structure of worship). Then he would train and install Elders and Deacons then move to the next place according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Checking back on them from time to time and writing to them for encouragement and correction. This is all great but how does it apply to us here and now? I’m glad you asked.
If one aims at nothing, he will surely hit it. Meaning, if we do not plan to serve God, then we truly never will. If you have to work then you plan for it, set a clock, set out clothes, pack a lunch…In life, we’ve learned that serving God takes planning. Intentional in the ministry of the word is not just preaching or teaching.Its purposely planting His word in our hearts by reading the Bible and spending time with Him, so that when divine appoints are made we may minister a word from God to others. This takes planning, it’s not by accident. It’s a kind word or sharing a scripture. Planning of finances, we set aside our tithe, our other giving, and we try to leave extra in case we hear spontaneously from the Lord. Our time, my days almost always have some flex in case a ministry opportunity arises. My time at the Bible College has time built in for ministry. We plan fellowship and Bible studies. I will bet that many of you already know what I’m talking about or the Holy Spirit is laying someone on your mind right now that he wants you to make time for. You don’t have to be the Apostle Paul or even a pastor, but you can be intentional in ministering the word of God in your area of life
We Must Be Intentional in the Ministry of Service
Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.Romans 15:25-27
Paul reiterates these words,
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:2
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.Philippians 2:17
In every aspect Paul gives of his own life to benefit others. Paul uses his connections and close relationships to bring others together and promote the faith around him for the betterment of the body of Christ. Timothy/Ephesus, Titus/Crete, Onesimus & Philemon/Colossae “add his charge to my account.” Paul never used his position to his advantage. Churches and individuals helped to finance his missionary journeys, but Paul took great care to work and help carry the burden. Paul was intentional to serve God, the Gentiles, the church and the individuals. Even from prison and even unto death (beheaded)
Here is the question, are we intentional about serving or are we just there and agreeable by happenstance? Could we be purposeful in our service? I know that some of you are moving with purpose now, but I can’t help but to think what are we missing out on? I do know 3 things.
- I don’t have all the answers.
- The Holy Spirit will direct us if we ask.
- The devil will seek to distract us from realizing our true potential.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.Matthew 7:7
We can be more intentional in our ministry of service.
We Must Be Intentional in Our Plan For Expansion
So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.Romans 15:28-29
I really don’t want to belabor these points, but they are worthy of mention. Ben Franklin said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” God gave us an amazing brain to use for all types of activities. Serving God is not exempt. Paul has completed the one task of delivering the aid to Jerusalem and now plans to visit Spain and Rome along the way. But what happens, he was arrested and embarks on a voyage to Rome, just not like he had planned. He came with the full measure of Christ’s blessing /he stayed for 2 years under that arrest. Paul had a plan for expansion, just not in the same way.
For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!Acts 28:30-31
We don’t really know if Paul ever made it to Spain, but we do know that he accomplished his goal to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
Let me ask you this, what is your plan to bring the good news of Jesus to the lost world that surrounds you? Have you asked the Lord what your role is? Have you asked the Lord’s help in planning for the coming harvest?
Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.John 4:35
Church, the harvest is plentiful, yet the workers are few. We must prepare/equip ourselves to meet the challenge. We have all been called by God for some capacity. Yet we will never know unless we start thinking in intentional/purposeful ways. Think about how you can articulate our testimony. Maybe write it so it can be shared in a 30 second teaser that might cause someone to tell me more about your story. Is Jesus really real? How can we serve other in an unusual way that might cause them to see Jesus? How can we purposefully plant seeds that with reap a harvest for the Kingdom of God?
Will you be open today to sharing your testimony with someone this week? Will you share all that the Lord has done for you? Sharing all the ways God has shown you mercy and grace. Will you allow the Holy Spirit to stir faith in someone through your testimony? Would you join me as the Holy Spirit moves on us to be unified in the spirit of Christ? These are the kingdom values. This is truly the work of God. The intentional actions of the body of Christ. Remember the devil seeks only to kill steal and destroy. Steal your freedom, kill your joy, and destroy your destiny for hope and love. But God has a plan! He’s stealing from your neighbor, your family, and your loved ones today.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
Jesus, He’s the Son of the living God, and we can receive from Him today His Righteousness, His purpose and His calling. Will you call on him today? Your salvation/forgiveness is just one prayer away. Will you trust in his ability to do what He said He would do? Will you believe today? Many of you need a fresh touch from God today. Is there some form of unbelief or a fracture of trust as it relates to God in your life today? God wants to redeem and restore those areas of your life? He wants to restore Joy and hope for you today. You’re hearing this now and the Holy Spirit has brought someone or something to mind. He wants to speak life into this today. He wants to bring healing in this area today. There are areas of deep regret when it comes to your relationship with God and you have rejected Christ as your savior …It’s not too late
It’s not too late to humble yourself before him today, hold out your arms and open your hands to receive from him today. Will you say yes to Jesus, today? Will you bow your heads with me? Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today.If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here.
Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life. If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. Remember, it’s just you and God here. Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me?
Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and on that 3rd day, you rose from the dead. I ask you to come into my heart today. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.
“‘“The Lord bless youNumbers 6:24-26
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’