Mystery Revealed

Scripture

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith- – Romans 16:25-26

Observation

Paul concludes Romans with an overview of his letter to the church in Rome. The mystery of God, that is the redemptive plan fulfilled in Jesus Christ, has been revealed. This revelation was experienced in the gospel through Paul’s preaching and in the fulfillment of the scriptural prophesies. This proclamation is an encourage to live obedient lives for the cause of Christ. 

Application

The mystery of God has been revealed to the nations so that all may enjoy the blessings of the redemptive life.  The Old Testament prophets had foretold the coming of Christ and the plan of God to draw all nations to Himself, both the Jew and Gentile.  May we be strengthen for the task of sharing the gospel because we are part of a greater plan that has been taking shape since the Old Testament prophets, through the preaching of Paul and through the message of the church today. We are part of the greater plan of God to reveal the mystery of Christ to the nations. 

Prayer

Lord strengthen and empower us to deliver the good news message to the nations. Make clear the mystery to those who hear.  

  

Crush

Scripture

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. – Romans 16:20 ESV

Observation

Satan had risen his head up through dissension in the church and distortion of the gospel. Paul reveals hope that the God of peace will crush the head of Satan under their feet. 

Application

After the fall, God cursed Satan and it is revealed in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  Satans injury to the people of God is only temporary but the blow to the head of Satan will be fatal. This final blow will come with the second coming of Christ when Satan is finally defeated. 

Prayer

Lord may we keep our hope in you.  We know the trials we face will result in temporary injuries but we place our hope in our eternal redeemer and deliverer, Jesus Christ.

Unity in Christ

Scripture

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. – Romans 16:17

Observation

Paul is referring to individuals who were preaching a different gospel that required more from the believers, such as Jewish practices. Those preaching these messages were causing division among the churches. 

Application

Division can bring harm to the church’s  testimony in the community around them. Paul warns against individuals who would cause such division through false doctrines and who create obstacles to the gospel. The gospel message is “Christ alone, by faith alone”.  Nothing else is required.  Those who require more are preaching a doctrine contrary to the gospel. 

The only “flag we should fly” is Jesus Christ and him crucified.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me”.  This is the gospel we preach.  There is no other way by which we can be saved. We also read in Ephesians 2:8-9 that we at “for by grace are you saved by faith and not by works”.  The gospel is clear.  Nothing else is required beyond Jesus Christ. 

Prayer

Lord may there be unity in the church. May we focus on the one essential to an effective church and a saving faith; Chris alone.

  

Missionary Call

Scripture

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, – Romans 15:20

Observation 

Paul had been called to take the gospel to the Gentiles. He was committed to taking Christ to areas where he had not “already been named”.  

Application

I have pastored churches in various domestic areas and in international settings. Over the years I have been aware of the numerous church leaders who serve in the southern part of the United States. I have always felt there were more than enough leaders to go around. This is not true for other regions of the United States and definitely in other parts of the world. 

Paul’s focus was not to serve in areas where Christ had already been proclaimed, thus building on the foundation of others. He possessed the missionary call to take the gospel to regions in need of a Christian witness.  This same call is needed in our churches today. While we stumble over each other in some parts of the United States there are a vast amount of individuals and regions who do not have someone who will preach the good news and pastor the people. May we hear the same missionary call of Paul; to go where no one has laid a foundation and Christ has not been named.

Prayer

Lord stir in us the missionary call. Open our eyes to those who need a preacher and pastor. May we pull from the comforts of the familiar and move out to people and regions in need. 

  

God of Hope

Scripture
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13
Observation
God is a giver of hope. His hope leads to joy and peace. 

Application

The strength of our hope is dependent on the source of our hope. If our hope rest in the temporary things of life and our surroundings then our hope will be temporary as well. When our hope rest in the God of hope and it is empowered by the Holy Spirit we will find a hope that is lasting and empowering. This hope will give us a forward looking life that looks forward to the blessings of God and the fulfillment of His promises. 

Hope is at the center of our walk with Christ. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Hebrews 11:1. In hope we anticipate the fulfilling of God’s promises. Hope preceeds our confidence and assurance.  Hope sets our eyes toward the future and ignites us for a forward thrust toward living out life according to God’s purposes and plans. This move forward is empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

Prayer

Lord may hope ignite us to move forward toward your purposes and plans. 

  

Harmony to Glorify

Scripture 

5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. – Romans 15:5-7 ESV

Observation 

God is a God of endurance and encouragement. He provides what we need to live in harmony with one another; to live in harmony with Christ’s mission; and to welcome one another. The goal is that God, our Father will be glorified. 

Application

May our fellowship with the body of Christ be characterized by harmony and a welcoming environment. The power to achieve this comes from the endurance and encouragement given to us by our Heavenly Father. May God be glorified by the harmony expressed in our fellowship. 

Prayer

Lord we ask for your encouragement and endurance to live in harmony so that you may be glorified.

  

Matters of the Kingdom

Scripture 

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17

Observation

In the preceding and following verses in Romans 14, Paul is encouraging his readers to not allow the things they eat or drink to become a stumbling block in the lives of others. He directs them to see that the kingdom of God is about “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit”.  

Application

We should not let the matters of our appetite and thirst become the focus of our lives but see them as less important in our Christian walk. We will then be willing to abstain from those things that would be a hinderance in the lives of other believers.  We should keep our focus on the more essential matters of the kingdom:  righteousness, peace, and joy. 

Prayer

Lord help us to determine the important things in life and the value of encouraging others in their walk with you.  We know your kingdom is a matter of the heart and not our desires or appetites.  May we see clearly the needs of others and build them up and not distract them from the things of the kingdom. 

  

Accountability

Scripture

11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. – Romans 14:11-12 ESV

Observation

Every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. We then will be accountable to Christ. 

Application

Accountability is important in the Christian life. We are first accountable to Jesus Christ who has given us life and called us into fellowship with Him. We also are accountable to others God places in our lives. This accountability ensures we remain faithful to our calling as a followers of Christ. It keeps us focused on the mission and purposes we have been set out to accomplish. 

It is hard to be accountability because it is hard to humble ourselves in order to receive correction and guidance. We must yield our individual rights for God’s purposes and be willing to be teachable. One of the greatest tools in this accountability is the Word of God. 

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

There are four areas of guidance the Word of God provides in our accountability. 

Teaching:  It first provides the foundation of our Christian understanding by teaching us God’s ways and purposes.  The doctrines of our faith, the precepts of God’s Word lay the foundation for the life we are to live. We do not have to guess what or how we are to live because we have been provided full understanding.  

Reproof:  There are times when we find ourselves on the side of the road and in the ditch. Because of sin we may not even be aware of our true condition. To us it is just another day of struggle. The Word of God quickly reveals to us when we have gone astray, when we are off course. It reproofs us and points out our waywardness. 

Correction:  Once the light of God’s Word is shed on our condition then God begins to provide a correction to our current situation. He shows us how to get out of the ditch and to get ourselves back on the road. The corrective course may come through a Christian friend who speaks into our lives and provides insights into how we may correct our thinking and decision making.  These are important accountable relationships who we trust in order to receive Godly counsel. 

Training:  Once we return to our corrected path and on the path God has set before us, then the Word of God provides further teaching on how to proceed. We are reminded of the truth of God’s Word and how we are to continue on this journey with God’s guidance and the accountability of others. Training will prepare us not to make the same mistakes. It equips us with the skills to remain on the path set before us. 

We will all give an account of ourselves to God. As we prepare for that day may we learn to live according to His principles and remain true to His purposes. We will all bow down and proclaim Jesus as Lord. May our daily lives make the proclamation today that He is Lord. 

Prayer

Jesus may you be Lord over every area of our lives. Place in our lives your Word and individuals who will keep us accountable as we give an account of ourselves to you.  Equip us to walk the path set before us. 

  
  

To the Lord

Scripture

For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. – Romans 14:8 ESV

Observation

In chapter 14 we are encouraged to live as unto the Lord in all areas of life. Romans points out the things that could lead to confusion, such as the food you eat, or the days you set aside for observance. It comes down to the fact that whatever we do we do it “to the Lord”. 

Application

The Christian’s life is not defined by our practices but by our commitment and our obedience “to the Lord”.  For many we want to make the Christian life about the practices or disciplines of our faith; our prayers, our Bible study, our fellowship, or our sharing. Romans reminds us that in whatever or however we do it let our aim and focus be “to the Lord”.  What does it mean “to the Lord”?

First it means that our end goal it to exalt and glorify Christ. Our goal is not about our efforts or our disciplines. It is ultimately about exalting Christ above all else.   He becomes the reward for our seeking. Is our goal to show our obedience or is it to be obedient for Christ’s sake?  May we find at the end of our disciplines Christ being highly exalted. 

We also do all things “to the Lord” by living and serving as Christ demonstrated.  Our model for service is clearly seen in the life of Christ. We live not to be served but to serve. Our selfish ambitions are set aside for Christ’s ambitions and we find the greatest joy in serving selflessly as He served the needs of others.  

Prayer

Lord my our dedication and service be unto You. May you be the sole motivation for all we do.  

  

Put On Christ

Scripture

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. – Romans 13:14 ESV

Observation 

We are called to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and not give any room for the flesh. 

Application

In Romans 13 we are challenged to no longer live according to the flesh but “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ. This putting on requires us to set aside our own desires and agendas and pursue Christ alone. So how do we put on Christ?  Below are three ways to clothe ourselves with Christ daily. 

Remember Christ’s Agenda

As we begin each day we remind ourselves of Christ’s agenda. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”. – Romans 10:17 ESV.  In order for us to put on Christ and walk in faith we must begin with His Word. In the Word we discover the purpose by which we are to live. We are also challenged to adjust our lives to His purposes and to set aside any sin that hinders us. 

Pray the Word

As we face the challenges and decisions of daily living we must seek the Word of God that speaks to our needs and the needs of others. George Mueller, a Christian evangelist and director of the Ashley Downs orphanage in Bristol, England in the 1800’s often sought scriptures to find answers and guidance to his prayers. With every need and concern he would find a biblical promise that would speak to the specific circumstance.  He would continually plead that promise within his prayer until he obtained an answer.  When we pray the Word of God and plead His promises we are draw closer to God’s will and purpose. 

Meditate on the Word

Mediation for the Christian is an opportunity to reflect on the promises and purposes of God found in His Word. As we go throughout the day we reflect on God’s Word and allow it to clothe us in Christ and His agenda. We remind ourselves throughout the day what our mission is and who we are all about, the exalting of Christ. 

Prayer

Lord guide us today in “putting on Christ”.