Encouragement and Hope

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4 NIV).

Romans 15 NIV
Romans 15 by Frank Ball
Romans 15 In Your Bible

As Paul nears the end of his letter to the Romans, he continues to focus on relationships and living for God. Wonderful jewels remain for the believer in this chapter. He concludes it with a discussion of his travels and trials.

Unity in Christ

Christ came to the Jews first, to show them God is true to his promises. Then in God’s mercy, Christ came to the Gentiles. They received the Cornerstone the Jews had rejected and God received the glory.

Paul sets his heart to pray for unity between Jews and Gentiles. He prays not for himself, but for the Roman believers. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 NIV).

Affirmation

Fellow believers I am convinced that your lives are overflowing with kindness and generosity. Filled with knowledge of God’s love, you are well able to encourage and admonish on another (Romans 15:14 by Frank Ball).

Prayer: Father, thank you for the promise of endurance to pass through my trials. I praise you for the Cornerstone – Jesus Christ.

Questions: At times when have you have felt low, did someone encourage you with the uplifting word, a song, or Scripture that met your needs? Paul affirms believers are overflowing with kindness and generosity. When is the last time you encouraged someone else?

Encourage – Don’t Be Critical

No Do Nutting Dat Goin Make You Bruddas An Sistas Mess Up (Romans 14:13b Da Jesus Book).

Romans 14 By Frank Ball
Romans 14 Da Jesus Book
Romans 14 In Your Bible

Offensive behavior and judging others hinder a believer’s growth in Christ. Whereas good behavior helps others see Christ in you.

Encourage Others

God observes what we do and say. Therefore, don’t be critical. Instead, be encouraging, seeking to avoid any behavior that might cause another Christian to stumble (Romans 14:13 by Frank Ball).

Right Relationships  (or Right Living)

For three years Jesus’ teaching focused on the Kingdom of God. Not surprisingly, he addressed this topic at least 54 times during his ministry. * Therefore, a believer’s goal is to please God with this type of lifestyle (Kingdom Living).

The Kingdom of God is not built upon what you eat or drink. It’s built upon our relationship with him – each of us following the direction of the Holy Spirit in righteousness, peace, and joy (Romans 14:17 by Frank Ball).

Paul sums it up with . . . Instead of focusing on everything wrong, let’s make peace with others by giving encouragement and compliments for doing what is right (Romans 14:19 by Frank Ball).

Prayer: Father, I don’t want my brothers or sisters in Christ to mess up. Help me understand more about Kingdom of God. Help me live this lifestyle daily.

Questions: How difficult is it for you to remain positive when things go wrong? Jot down a list of times you have received help by positive comments in times of trial?

* From Biblegateway.com.

Civil Obedience and Love

Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God (by His permission, His sanction), and those that exist do so by God’s appointment (Romans 13:1 Amplified Bible). Romans 13 by Frank Ball
Romans 13 Amplified Bible
Romans 13 Jubilee Bible
Romans 13 In Your Bible

Paul stresses civil obedience. In Palestine, and especially Galilee, the Jews were notoriously rebellious.* Now he addresses obedience to Roman authority – believers, knowing God is the absolute authority, must obey civil law.

This counsel concerning obedience to civil authority is a theme that runs throughout the New Testament (Matthew 22:21, Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25, Romans, 1 Timothy 2, Titus 3, and 1 Peter to list a few).

God Is the Supreme Authority

Paul reveals is that God allows or chooses leaders for nations and countries. Believers must respect governing authorities and their laws, because all power to rule exists with God’s permission. Let every soul submit itself to the higher powers. For there is no power but of God, and the powers that are ordained of God (Romans 13:1 Jubilee Bible).

Fulfill All the Commands

Paul reminds believers of a statement Jesus made. Of all God’s commandments . . . all these are fulfilled in one simple act of obedience: Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself (Romans 13:9 by Frank Ball). The command to love your neighbor is a new way of life empowered by God’s love – Jesus Christ. Alleluia.

Prayer: Father, thank you for making difficult things simple. We must obey and we must love. You know they are simple only with and through your power.

Questions: Who really selects our governing authorities . . . God amazingly. History reveals how God has punished nations and countries for unrighteous living. Can you name a few?

* The Daily Study Bible Series, The Letter to the Romans, William Barclay, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1957, pp. 185-189.

Get God’s Perspective

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody (Romans 12:14-16 The Message).

Romans 12:14-21 by Frank Ball
Romans 12:14-21 The Message
Romans 12:14-21 Jubilee Bible
Romans 12:14-21 In Your Bible

In the last section of Romans 12, Paul addresses the importance of God’s perspective on how to react to tough circumstances or relationships. We know he has the best in mind for those who trust in him.

Keep it in God’s Hands

Believers are not to argue nor retaliate with those who mistreat or create strife for you. Now the hard part – if at all possible. . .Do your best to live peaceably with everyone (Romans 12:18b by Frank Ball). God alone can take vengeance, because he judges on his holiness and righteousness.

Move in the Opposite Spirit

The world system applauds seeking vengeance or responding with evil for the evil. However Paul has a different approach . . . Do not be wise in your own opinion. Not repaying anyone evil for evil; procuring [getting hold of] that which is good not only in the sight of God, but even in the sight of all men (Romans 16b,17 Jubilee Bible -JUB).

The Jubilee Bible rendering brings God’s view, not just that of man. We need to get hold of how God wants us to respond in difficult times. Remember, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would be a Helper to us. Alleluia.

God desires us to be amazingly different – as Jesus was. Yes, it is possible. You can do what Jesus would do when confronted with evil. How? Let kindness and love reverberate in the believer’s main mode of operation. Read again in your Bible Romans 12:19-21.

Sarah Young, the author of Jesus Calling says this, “Thank Me [Jesus] when things do not go your way, because spiritual blessings come wrapped in trials.” *

Prayer: Father, thank you for your perspective on vengeance. I need your help in keeping kindness my focus in tough times.

Questions: How do you deal with people who make things difficult for you – when you know you are correct in your perspective? How do you “turn the other cheek?”

*Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace in His Presence, Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN, 2004, p.25.