Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.
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Jesus came for the Jew and the non-Jew. Paul’s assignment was to bring the Gospel to all the world. Yet even though he was a Jew who came to know Jesus first-hand, God’s marching orders for the Missionary were primarily to the non-Jewish world. His various journeys took him far from Judea. In fact, here in Romans 15, he is planning a journey all the way to Spain, with a stop-over to those he has addressed this letter to, the church in Rome.
Paul notes that Jesus came to serve and bring hope. And that’s our assignment too! Our daily strength is for service not for status. Our charge is maturity.
Again, Paul quotes from the Ancient Text, and notes how relevant it is for us, even today. Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us. God wants the combination of his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will do next. May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. (v4-6, MSG).
Uncontainable joy! Perfect peace! That’s maturity.
Spiritual maturity is God’s goal for us. May I ask you frankly, how are you doing in that area? Are you growing deeper in your personal relationship with Jesus every day? I’m asking myself that question as well. Maturity is a common theme in Paul’s letters. He challenges us to focus on spiritual maturity in five other letters: 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Timothy! We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. (Colossians 1:28, MSG).
We are designed by God Himself to grow into greater spiritual maturity each day; not to merely tread water. How do we grow? Through the power of the Holy Spirit! Peace. Joy. Hope. Strength. Love.
Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope! (v13, TPT).
Uncontainable joy! Perfect peace! Trusting God. That’s maturity. And you will shine with a waterfall of unshakable hope through the Holy Spirit.
As Paul begins to wrap this letter up, I love the glimpse into the humanness of who he is. He sums up his evangelistic travels, noting with a small touch of pride in Jesus the depth of the message he has preached far and wide: The text of the messages I preached: Those who were never told of Him, they’ll see Him. Those who’ve never heard of Him, they’ll get the message. (v21, MSG). Again, he’s quoting Isaiah (Chapter 52) and it’s a quote that even Jesus uses often: “To him who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
So, are you listening? Am I listening? Sh’ma! Hear! Listen. Act. Obey. Mature.
That’s the whole point, isn’t it? I believe the reason for living is all about seeing, knowing, and experiencing God.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.