Romans 15:1-13

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I’m going to invite you this morning to Romans. Chapter 15 is where we are together. Romans Chapter 15, as we continue in this section of Romans, where really 14 and 15. Half of 15 continue in a theme of thought, as Paul is dealing with interacting in the body of Christ as a united community, though we come with from different positions and places in life how to find unity in diversity as God’s people. That’s the beauty of really the second half of the Book of Romans or maybe the latter half of the Book of Romans. Remember, when we enter into this section of Scripture, we’re not asking the question of who we are in identity because the first 11 chapters of Romans lays that out for us. We discover who God is and who we are. In light of that, that’s the first 11 chapters are all about orthodoxy, what we believe as Christians and based on our belief, then if what you truly believe will determine how you behave, if you want to know, if you look at your life, it indicates what your heart is truly set on, right? So you’re believing leads to your behaving. And the first 11 chapters, he lays out that foundation of what we believe. But but Chapter 12, then 16, he then shares with us how to live, how to behave in light of that what what our lives should should evidence in light of who Christ is and now your identity in him.

So we’re not we’re not looking for our identity in these chapters, but rather the mission and vision of how we’re to live because of what Christ has done for us. And so the first 11 chapters dealing with the orthodoxy, these, these last four chapters dealing with our orthopraxy. And so today we’re going to talk about how we we let the belief of Christ allow us to to live in healthy community. And we talk about healthy community. We’re not meaning perfect community because, well, people are messy and we all come with baggage and from different places in life and God is doing a work in us. And so we need some room to be able to to grow and to experience that in each other as, as the goodness of who Christ is, is made known in our lives. But but in terms of healthy community, we want to we want to experience it. There’s a part of us where we’re relational creatures and we, we, we love to move in community and find our our purpose as we live that out in community. So we certainly want to experience it. And we don’t just want to be takers, we also want to be contributors. So how do we how do we experience and contribute to to healthy community? And this is what the Apostle Paul is reflecting on in these passages today. In point number one in your notes is this. I’ll go ahead and give it to you.

Is this serve others from your strength, Serve others from your strength? The mission of the church is not about accomplishing tasks, though. Tasks can be involved in what we do. But the point of the church is not to simply do things. God is more than capable of doing things even without us. But. But. But. The point of the church is built in relationship. Really. Jesus told us the two greatest commands are to love God and love others. Those are relational commands that as we come to know the Lord and our relationship with him vertically, it impacts our relationships horizontally. And so what God calls us to, though you may do things in this world, God is about people. Ministry exists because of people. And so when we think in terms of what God desires for us to do, it relates to how we interact with one another. And relationships are never easy. They have challenges. And because we are people and we’re not perfect, how do we navigate that? That’s that’s that’s really how Paul is broaching the subject. And he has some particular challenges he’s wrestling through. But but he’s telling us in this passage that the way that we start, he wants us to serve from our strength. And I know point number one, if you’re at a place in life where you’re feeling down, where you’re feeling weak, starting and leading with that kind of a statement can feel a little bit overwhelming.

And I just want you to know I’m about to make it more overwhelming. So So we’re going to look at this verse for a minute and this is a challenging verse. Verse number one is a challenging verse. And you might, as you read it, just just be thinking about, you know what, I’m going to find a different community that doesn’t quite have the verses with this kind of punchiness to, to expressing how to how to experience healthy community. But but I want you to as we look at these verses for a minute, look at these words within this verse, we’re going to back away from it and explain how to approach this from a from a healthy place where where it’s not reliant upon you. Serving from your strength makes it sound like it’s it’s dependent and reliant upon you. But that’s really the paradox of what Christian strength is about. So let me read this verse and we’ll dive into it. He says this in verse one We who are strong and if you’re not feeling strong, you already feel a little bit distant to this, right? But we who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. And you look at this, that first verse and talking about your strength and all of a sudden, I tell you this morning, if even if. You knew. The first thing I want you to know is you have an obligation.

Like who wants to we’re going to volunteer for for serving today. I want everyone to sign up for a new position in serving where you can be involved or or maybe you’re not involved and you can find a brand new position. And I’m telling you, it is an obligation. Like how how can you sell that? Right? And then he talks about the idea of failing like we don’t we don’t want to belong to things that are failing, but we want to belong to things that have life and give life. But he’s talking about failing here and not to please yourselves. Meaning it’s not about you, but it’s about being selfless. And so some people will read this verse, and if you’re coming from a challenging place in life, you’re like, Nah, that’s not for me. Let’s get to point number two. Or maybe you just want to run away altogether and other people might look at this and be like, okay, I’ve got some strength to give. And you read a verse like this and you think, Let me just put on my superhuman cape and and just go out and prove to everyone how strong I am and impress them with my abilities based on my strength. Because that’s what this verse is talking about, right? Serve for my strength. But but the interesting thing about Christianity, when we talk in terms of strength, if you read this passage and think God is telling you to be strong in and of yourself and to demonstrate and prove your strength, then you’re going to completely miss the Christian message.

Because the strength of the life of the believer is not found within you, but beyond you outside of you. In fact, in Second Corinthians Chapter 12, in terms of strength, the Apostle Paul said it like this, teaching us how to discover our strength, he said. But he said to me, talking to the Lord, he’s praying to the Lord in a and a challenge He’s facing. He says, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, Paul says, therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of Christ may rest upon me for the sake of Christ. Then I am content with insults, with weaknesses, with hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. And what the Apostle Paul is recognizing in this passage and I would say he’s communicating in a similar vein in Romans chapter 12, is that the strength and the life of the believer is not found within the believer in himself. In fact, what he’s arguing is it comes from our weakness. Biblical, biblical strength is found in confident identity and position in Jesus, not in your performance, but in his strength. For us, it’s not about impressing you with me, but it’s about our lives being impressed with him.

I don’t come this morning out of the out of the strength of of myself to demonstrate who I am, but rather out of the strength of Christ, to communicate the glory of of who he is. Because I possess no spiritual power to transform your life. It’s only Jesus that can do that. In fact, within the context of Romans 15, if you look at verse two, Paul is communicating with us where the strength comes from. He says in verse two, Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up. If you remember, in the context of chapter 14 and 15, Paul here talking about looking to the need of your neighbor and building them up. Paul is talking about the wrestle within the culture of the community, recognizing in a Gentile and Jewish world, they’re coming from two different places, having learned in a few different cultures now united in this one identity in Christ. But but because of their cultures, they may come from this place of weakness. And he’s particularly in this chapter referencing meat and drink offered to idols. Right. And what happens in the life of a of a believer is you may find yourself so confidently secure in your identity in Jesus that meat sacrifice to idols means nothing to you. Because you know who you are in Christ and you know what Christ has done for you. And no matter what the world says or does who you are in Jesus is where you find your strength.

But but then there are other people who have may have wrestled with these idols. They have sacrificed so much. And to look at anything given over to those idols, even if it’s if it’s meat from the marketplace to a false idol who doesn’t even exist. They think about the pain of their past and to watch someone else continue to eat that meat, it devastates them. They’re not secure yet in that. They’re not strong in that position. And so the life of a believer who’s found complete confidence and security in Christ, especially in that regard, can come alongside of a of another Christian. And recognizing their weakness, they refrain from the meat sacrifice from idols in their presence in order to build them up in Jesus. They don’t make that issue a priority, but rather who they are in Christ, that they can be more secure in him and hopefully get to the place of confidence in who Jesus is in all regards of their life. And so the point of this passage is to suggest to us that the the strength in the life of the believer is not about you putting on a cape and impressing people with who you are, but how your life has been radically transformed in your identity in Christ, not because of what you’ve done for him, but because of what he has done for you. And so when you speak in this world, it’s not the representation of your life but the representation of Christ because of what he means for you.

Serve others from your strength. And then the Apostle Paul in verse three, he gives us the example of Christ. He says, For Christ did not please himself. But as it is written, the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me. He’s quoting Psalm 69 and verse nine, in referencing to how Jesus bore our insults and hostility and shame. And yet he was incredibly strong. Incredibly strong, in fact. Tim Keller, in his book Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering on page 253, he says this Look at Jesus. He was perfect, right? And yet he goes around crying all the time. He is always weeping. A man of sorrows. And do you know why? Says, because he is perfect. Because when you’re not all absorbed in yourself, you can feel the sadness of the world. And what he’s saying is, is Jesus, his sadness wasn’t in himself, but rather or focused on how other people hurt him. And Jesus was so confident and secure in his identity that regardless of what other people did, he he could stay on mission because he was confident in who he was and where he came from and where he was going. He he knew what his life was about. And he he never lost perspective of that. He wasn’t looking for others to validate him, but rather he knew his validation in and of himself as he related to the father.

And so because of that, then he wasn’t constantly looking for people for affirmation. He wasn’t serving and hopes that people would make him feel more appreciated in and of itself or in and of that that action, his actions were an outflow of the identity that he already possessed. He wasn’t inadequate. Rather, he was complete. As Tim Keller says, he was perfect. And because his life was was fulfilled and satisfied within that, he was able then to minister to others, look beyond himself, to the to the needs in life around him, to the hearts of people in their brokenness and give of himself out of that outflow. Of what he possessed and his inner strength. Thanks to the position and identity that he had. In Jesus, even in Matthew 23 and verse 37, he says at the end of his life, Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem. How I long to gather you as a mother hen gathers her chicks. And he and he wept over the city at the end of his life because his heart was about giving itself away from the strength that he possessed. Tim Keller remarking on that. People that aren’t secure can’t minister in a healthy way. They are constantly trying to find their worth and they’re serving rather than in the one who has served them. They’re seeking anything to fill them up. But you who are in Christ are secure.

If your strength is in anything other than Christ. When you succeed, it will go to your head and puff you up in pride. And when you fail, it will go to your heart and crush you in despair. But the life of the believer. If your life is in him, regardless of life’s ups and downs, that God can be glorified. Because in Jesus you are secure. Sometimes we spend so much time trying to be perfect and and impress others, and we fail to embrace the perfection that we have in Christ. God. God does not call you to compete to impress others, but rather rest in Jesus and be impressed with him. And so the question for us really is how has God made you strong? Not not in yourself. But in him. And how has God gifted you to express that strength through Him? It’s not about really who you are, but rather who you are in light of who Christ is. Serve others from your strength. And point number two is this. Then stand secure in the faith. Stand secure in the faith. And now he goes on in these verses and he starts to reflect in this this past history of what you have as a believer in Jesus because of who God is. And he says this for whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction. He’s talking about the word of God, that this this word of God was given for you, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope.

So God’s Word written for you. What you discover is this endurance and this encouragement that God over and over again He has been. He has been faithful. God endures in His Word and his promises are true. And that provides encouragement for your life that you can look back and see the consistency of a God who never fails. Who still walks with us today. And therefore what it produces within us as people is a hope, this earnest expectation that that as God has been faithful through His word, he will continue to be faithful to to his people. This idea of of hope happens for us because as people, we discover that we win. There is victory that no matter how dark the day may be, that we know that there there what is to come in Christ. And he’s demonstrated it over and over. And so we we stand secure in this faith. And the only way we we we recognize that we have this win that we have, this victory is by having one who is both sovereign and gracious towards us, one who is both just and loving. You need a God who who satisfies in both of those areas and his in his sovereignty and his care towards you. Justice with no love gives you a power with no care for. And in love with no justice gives you care with no power.

We we need a sovereign God. And he’s demonstrated his his authority throughout Scripture over and over, which gives us that that enduring hope and encouragement in Christ. He is not weak. He is not lacking. He is not dependent. If your God is inadequate in any way, the encouragement is to to find another God that God is He is capable of, of creating and controlling and ruling and maintaining and fulfilling his purposes and his promises. His sovereign. He is just and he’s not just sovereign and just. But we need a God who who also cares. And in in Scripture, we find one who is who is gracious and loving and compassionate and personal. So personal that in Christ we see the incarnation that that leads to his death on our behalf and and the resurrection and ultimately redemption of God’s people. The life of Jesus is where the sovereignty of God and the grace of God is made known and culminates in a in a tangible way. In fact, at the end of Jesus’s ministry on Earth, after his his his death and and his resurrection, it tells us he’s on the road with the strangers as a stranger, with the people from Emmaus. And it says in Luke 24, in verse 25, Jesus said to them, and they didn’t they didn’t know Jesus was walking with him in this moment. But Jesus said to them, o foolish ones and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.

Was it not necessary that Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory? And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted them in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself. What Jesus is saying in this passage is the whole point of Scripture. The whole point of the Bible is to talk about how God fulfills His His promises, and everything points to the redemption of his hand from the Book of Genesis, which starts with our relationship with God and how it’s severed because of sin. And God gives us the promise in Genesis chapter three, that that he will give his life and suffer a hill wound in order to do so, that we might be restored in that relationship with God all the way to the end of the Book of Revelation, where we’re at the marriage supper of the lamb and we’re once again united with Christ face to face. It is that story of redemption and the theme of that story. Is knowing Christ and enjoying relationship with him. And some people will look at the Bible as as simply a self-help book. But but for us, it’s it’s the painting of God’s great story of reconciling us to him at the expense of himself, in his sovereignty and grace that we could be renewed in Christ. Tim Keller again in his book The Meaning of Marriage. Which I think is the greatest book in marriage that I have ever read.

When I when I got married, I, I gave my wife a promise. I said to her, every year of our of our lives together, I’m going to read a book on marriage simply because I just want to be the best husband that I can be for you. And out of years of being married now and tell you the best book I’ve ever come across on marriage is Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage. And he says this within the book, The Gospel is this. We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe. Yet at the very same time, we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. The first part of that sentence recognizes the justice of God. He is sovereign. He will bring all things into account. We need a just powerful God to execute that. But if we’re honest in our sin, we stand in the path of the wrath of a just God. And yet at the same time. We see the grace of God who cares enough for us that he doesn’t leave us there, but He passionately pursues us with the gift of his life to pay for the sins that we we conducted. And he bears it on his own shoulders that we can find freedom in him. And marriage becomes that place of reflecting the place of realizing two imperfect people need need one another to to fight for each other in our own brokenness, to help each other become what God has called us to be.

And it doesn’t just happen there, but it’s expressed in a gospel community. And the way that we live that out is to understand the security that we have in the faith because of what Christ has done for us. To look at the picture of the consistency of a God who has shown up time and time again and has only been faithful in what he’s declared to us, that we through that have hope in him. And out of that hope becomes the outflow of our strength in the way that we care for one another. And so he goes on in verse five. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice, glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We find a united identity to care for one another and glorify God. It doesn’t mean a uniformity. But what it does mean is that we we must hold to the consistency of what our faith is about. You see, within this, the communication of really this chapter of Paul is emphasizing two things for us. One is truth and the other is relationship. And the importance of our relationships are only discovered in the foundation of our truth. So one of the the precarious places that people of faith can get to is they can they can prioritize those things in reverse order that you would put relationship before truth itself and forsake what God says and make relationship the priority.

But the thing that gives priority to the relationship is the truth of God. That’s been proclaimed to us, that what I’m saying to us is as a church is that relationship is always important, but we will not forsake the truth that we stand on for the sake of relationship, because the truth that we stand on gives the priority to the relationship that we want to be about. It defines why we do what we do and to forsake the truth simply because we want to love is to let go the meaning for why God’s people exist in this world. We do not want to apologize for the truth in which God declares, but rather more boldly share it with people that they can find their identity in what God has done for them. As a church. That means for us, we never let go of the foundation for which we rest on. That our faith remains secure in Jesus, knowing the world is not always going to agree with him. But we’ve got to remain consistent in that. And I think this is why Paul is saying to us to be be encouraged in this, to take hope in this, because he knows the world will press at that. But if we know where it goes and how it ends for us, because the consistency of a God who is both sovereign and loving, we can remain true and stand upon it.

Point number three, then. Get uncomfortable for others. That’s not in the realm of our typical human nature. We are creatures that enjoy comfort, things that are unfamiliar we don’t always jump into. But verse seven, he goes this way. He says, therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God. And Paul knows he’s talking to a diverse group. That we in our creature comforts like to sort of get within our clubs and stay within that context. And in a Jew and Gentile community, it could divide right through the church. But, but, but what he’s encouraging us is to to consider something greater that that God is doing among his people. And when you consider the context of verse seven, the calling of welcoming one another, this this phrase that Paul gives right after welcoming one another is a very humbling call because he says, Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God. And if you pause for a moment and just reflect to the extent. That Christ was willing to go in order to welcome you into his kingdom. Into his family. That call is a supernatural call. To be able to love and welcome people in that way. You think of what it costs Christ to to welcome us in.

It says in the Gospels that in the last days of Jesus’s life, he entered into Jerusalem boldly as his disciples followed from a safe distance because they knew what was awaiting Christ. Yet he he walks boldly. I mean, what a leader. Jesus was not complaining, not sulking. If you knew what was awaiting you. And it was the it was the way that Christ faced the end of his life, I mean, how would you carry your demeanor and what would you talk about? You look at the end of Jesus’s life and his life is still thinking outwardly towards other people. He’s not sulking in despair. He does spend a night in prayer, but he’s still washing the feet of his disciples and he’s eating at the table with the very enemy that would betray him to the point when he’s crucified. Jesus says, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And Jesus to the end of his life constantly thinking of others. He’s thinking of you and of me. And he willingly endures the nails of the cross. Jesus not only demonstrates this boldness, but he also teaches me to meet people where they are. And give them the opportunity to grow in him. I think as Jesus conducted his ministry, he just stepped into the brokenness, things that often might make others uncomfortable. Jesus bravely went into those moments because he knew who he was and he knew what he could do for others.

And the same is true for us. We know what Christ has done for us and what Christ can do for others. And so the compelling call in this passage to get outside of yourself is to think that the mission that God has called you on is greater than you. It’s greater than you. And when you consider the way that God has transformed your life and how God can transform the lives of others, it gives us the privilege of stepping outside of ourselves for the sake of others because of the power of Christ and what he can do in in lives. And so in verse eight and nine, he goes on and he says, For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs. In order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As as it is written. Therefore, I will praise you among the Gentiles and sing to your name. And what he’s saying in this verse, he’s saying to the Jewish people, look, Jewish people. God was faithful to fulfill what he promised you. But the promise was always greater than you. Because God is not only capable of meeting what you need. But he’s also more than capable of meeting the needs of others. And so while he fulfilled the promise to you, it wasn’t an end in of itself, but it was intended to move through you into the rest of the world.

And the same is true in your life. The gift of what Christ has done in your life is not intended to end in you. But rather becomes a gift that we have to contribute to the rest of the world and to see how how God can move through our lives to to share that in the hearts of other people To the point in verse 10 to 12. He then reiterates this over and over. He wants us to see that theme in Scripture that God has called His people together to live on mission for a purpose greater than themselves. And we say that as a church we don’t exist for ourselves, but we exist to give ourselves away for the glory of God to the benefit of others. And in verse ten, he says, and again it said, Rejoice Oh, Gentiles with his people. He’s quoting in Deuteronomy 32, verse 43, talking about how God has called his people beyond in the law. And again, praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him. He’s quoting from the Psalms, then to talk again about bigger than the Gentile or excuse me, the Jewish community, but the Gentile world. And in verse 12, he quotes from the prophets and he says, And again Isaiah said, The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles in him with the Gentiles hope.

What God is recognizing. And this passage and throughout Scripture for us. People are sacred to the Lord. They’re created in his image. And Jesus died for us. It’s a gift for us to be able to have the opportunity to extend ourselves to communicate that. Because it declares to the Lord the confident faith that we have and not only what he’s done in us, but also what he wants to do through us. Do you get uncomfortable for the Lord to the benefit of others? If you’re new this morning, we want you to get uncomfortable. Welcome. We don’t we want to If you call ABC your home and think about how God can use you to to know people, I think one of the most beautiful things that you can do is to learn someone’s name. Identifying them not just as Hey you, but who they really are. Right. To take the time to get to know that. And I will tell you as a as a as a pastor, can I tell you the one thing I hear people say almost consistently on a daily basis, I’m just not good at remembering names. Can I tell you, no one is right. No one is. But but taking the time to to to learn and to grow in that way. I mean, we are a community that on a Sunday morning now, we have over 300 people in attendance and many visitors on a Sunday morning. And it’s hard enough for me to keep all that straight, right? And sometimes I even call people by different names.

I had to apologize this week for doing that. But but but to to learn one another’s name is a community to to grow together and enjoy what God is doing in our lives and be willing to be uncomfortable because of what Christ has done for us. If Jesus was willing to make himself uncomfortable for us, I mean, how much more should we be willing to do that and to honor him and and point number four then abound in overflowing hope abound in overflowing hope. He says in verse 13. Now May the God of hope. Fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. One of the ways that you can see a mark of a mature Christian. Is through the life of someone who finds hope and rejoicing. Hope and rejoicing because it’s indicating where your true treasure lies. And when we talk in terms of hope. Hope is not this superficial happiness, Hope, hope doesn’t mean you go around all the time with hope and joy and and declare to people how how wonderful things are and how how happy you are all the time. That’s that’s that’s a it’s good to be happy if you can just be happy. I would be happy that you’re happy. Right. But but but in Christianity, we want more than just happiness.

We want a deep joy in our lives. And we discover that joy through an ultimate hope that we have in Christ. It’s it’s another paradox within the Christian faith that we can have both both brokenness and joy at the same time. I think Jesus demonstrated that he walked in the brokenness of this world. He wept in the brokenness of the world. His best friend, Lazarus, when he died, he wept at the at the death of Lazarus, right. At the same time when Jesus is about to resurrect him from the grave. And so Jesus, in the brokenness of the world, He wept for that. But also Jesus had joy. And we’ll look at that in just just a moment. But but Jesus had incredible joy because he knew he had something that endured beyond the circumstances of this world. And so hope doesn’t mean superficial happiness and hope and joy are not based on our circumstance, but but on our confidence in the promises of God. True hope and joy. Is demonstrated in in perseverance. And it proves that despite challenging times, you have something that endures all things. The problem is that if my hope is in anything but Christ. It’s a fleeting facade that will disappoint me at some point. And the greater my hope rests in whatever that thing is, the greater the disappointment I will discover. But to be honest. Losing hope is a scary thing.

It brings us as people to a place of despair. And we feel we feel powerless. And we can’t see a future. But the truth is in Christ. You’re never alone. And it is impossible to lose. Jesus is with you. And the promise in Scripture is that he will one day right every wrong. Just a couple of days ago. And I’m sure you caught on this by now, or at least caught this by now. But a couple of days ago, one of my heroes died. I don’t have very many living heroes. I like the dead ones because once once they’re. Once they’re gone, they can’t do anything stupid. I feel like there’s so many people in public that just do stupid things that eventually you just got to get distant from them. But. But one of my living heroes was Tim Keller. I hate doing yard work, but I got to tell you, one of my greatest joys in doing yard work is that I listen to Tim Keller sermons when I when I do yard work. And Tim Keller, two days ago, he passed away. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2020 and he passed away Friday. And they released a little bit of the of him passing away. They said that he waited until he was alone in the room with his wife. And she kissed his forehead. And he breathed his last breath and he was gone. But you know what’s interesting about Tim Keller? That this wasn’t his first bout with cancer.

In 2003 and 2004, he had lymphatic cancer. And after he overcame that cancer, he reflected on those moments where he was concerned for his life. And where he met the Lord in that struggle. And he went on to preach a sermon about it and he titled the sermon Death Can Only Make Me Better, which is a bit of a morbid statement. Unless you’re a person that has incredible hope in what you possess in Christ and desiring God ministries. John Piper’s ministry, they played a they played a portion of this sermon yesterday. I think I posted it yesterday. And in the context of that sermon, Tim Keller says this. He says, all death can now do to Christians is to make their lives infinitely better. It just screams of a person who has a hope, who has looked through the the history of a God and found encouragement and a in a sovereign and gracious God who cares for him. All death can now do to Christians is to make their lives infinitely better. And then he goes on. He makes this mark a little bit mark a little bit later. But he’s talking in this moment, this next statement about Jesus facing the cross. And he says this about Christ. He says, Christ, he verbally said this. He said, you know, Christ wasn’t looking at the cross and saying, come on, bring it. And Christ wasn’t wasn’t just bragging about taking this on and in his own strength, but rather his life was about honoring the father.

And Tim Keller made this remark about Jesus looking at the cross. He said, real courage is not the absence of fear. But the presence of joy. And what are you saying? Is Jesus in his final hours? I mean, he prayed, Father, let this cup pass. But nevertheless not my will. But your will be done. And Jesus in the flesh was facing a very difficult moment, the most difficult moment in all of history, and a very real way that we have the opportunity to see him. But but but what drove Jesus through that difficult moment was something greater. In fact, in Hebrews chapter 12, it said this way it says, Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. And what He’s saying is this It’s not to ignore our pain. Hope is not about ignoring our pain Christianity, it recognizing the adversity that we face. That’s the whole reason Jesus came. But what drove Jesus beyond the struggle of the moment, beyond the cross itself that he was willing to endure was the greater hope that was to come. And what was Jesus’s hope? What was the joy that that drove beyond the pain? It was to recognize that one, he was honoring the father and two, he was reconciling his friends into relationship with God again, that Jesus was willing to set forward the struggle of what was because of the greater hope that was to come.

And that’s the encouragement for us today that we we go through adversity. God sees us in the struggle that we face. That’s the entire reason he came. He came because of the destruction of the sin and the way that it weighs on our soul and separates us from relationship in God. In order that you would find ultimate hope in him. Yes, life has struggles. If you’re struggling this morning. Remember, God uses despair. As a catalyst for finding new hope in him. When despair knocks at your door, it’s an invitation to dive deeper into the richness of Christ. Because in the darkness of despair, the light of Christ is what brings hope. Even the smallest glimmer of hope will endure in Jesus, because despair is always but a passing storm compared to the promises of Christ that will last forever. Such hope enables us to persevere in challenging times and be a source of encouragement to those around us. How do you live in a healthy community? It’s not perfect community. But it’s to serve others from strength, from your strength. But it’s not the strength that you find in you. It’s the strength that you discover in him as you stand secure in the faith and through that become uncomfortable for the sake of others because of the overflowing hope and joy that you have in Jesus that transcends it all.

Romans 14:13-23

Romans 15:14-21