Romans 15:22-33

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I’m gonna invite you to Romans chapter 15 and where we are together today. Romans Chapter 15, as we get to the tail end of this great work that the Apostle Paul has written for really church history in a way that has made a tremendous impact throughout the centuries, a beautiful book that deals with our relationship with the Lord. And I love the way the Apostle Paul ends this book. We’re looking at the really the epilogue, the closing of how Paul writes this. We’re in the last half of Chapter 15 today, and we’ll look in Chapter 16 over the next couple of weeks as we conclude this book. But what we find in the book of Romans is the great treaties of the Christian faith. If you don’t know anything about Christianity, Book of Romans is a great book to start in, and it deals predominantly in the very beginning. The first eight chapters of the book deals with your relationship with the Lord, where we are apart from Christ, who we are because of Christ. With that great chapter in Chapter eight, calling us, adopting in Him, Abba Father belonging to him, able to connect with the Lord. It’s a great explanation of the Christian faith, but Paul doesn’t end there and just explaining to us the Christian faith, his interest also we’re going to see in this chapter today is relationally connecting as a community. Paul is just not simply interested in declaring truth, though truth is foundational for our lives.

He’s also interested in how we live that out with one another. And we see the Apostle Paul’s heart here in the book of Romans. In desiring to connect to the church in Rome. He he loves the believers in Christ there. He’s never been to this church. He didn’t plant this church, but he knows Rome is the epicenter for the Roman Empire. And and Paul’s ministry was all about getting to the urban areas to influence the urban areas because he knew if he could have influence in the cities, so go would go the countryside that what happens in the city sort of bleeds out into the countrysides. And and so Paul wanted to influence the the major metropolitan areas for the sake of the gospel, that the gospel would go forth and impact the countryside. And Rome was sort of the pinnacle of that. And Paul’s heart was to be there and to be with the believers and to encourage them. So not only is he giving us this great theological explanation of the Christian faith, he then in Chapter 11 and on he talks about how that looks in living and he wants to be a part of that because he’s not only interested in living with the body of believers and encouraging them in the Lord, He’s interested in what God wants to do through their life. And when you think particularly about the Apostle Paul’s life at this point in the story Paul has been following after the Lord for for 20 years now, he’s come to know Christ, been walking faithfully with with with Jesus.

He writes the epistle to the Romans about 20 years into his ministry, and Paul is likely in his 50s at this point, and he’s got no indication of slowing down. He’s not thinking about retirement. He’s not thinking about hanging up the saddle and being done. Apostle Paul’s ministry is growing with its impact. Paul continues to make a a greater difference in the way that the Lord is using him in this world and and continues to push forward. He’s going to be ministering for about another decade before he’s finally martyred. And even at that point, if the Apostle Paul had not been martyred, his life was just being poured out for Jesus. And so when we look at this, this, this Chapter 15 today, what we’re going to answer or look at is really three steps to make a greater impact for Christ in this world. And as we look at the Apostle Paul’s life and doing ministry over these couple of decades and the way God is using him to make a a growing impact, the way that Paul viewed his scope of ministry, you see in his communication here, it continues to broaden. And the way God is using him as God has has equipped him and He’s become more knowledgeable and wise in the way that he’s done ministry.

And he’s just expanded beyond where where he originally began to, to thinking even further and how God could use him in this world. And so as you look at his life, as he continues to grow older in years, his desires to continue to make a greater impact for the Lord. And I think what we’re going to see in these verses is that the way that Paul the Apostle Paul is doing this is to having some intentionality towards towards the way that he is pursuing his life in Christ and how it makes a difference in the lives of others. And he’s inviting the church in Rome to also participate. He’s using his life as an example to to model for other Christians. Now, I want us to know we’re all not the Apostle Paul. We’re not we’re all not going to be like the apostle Paul and necessarily the fruit that we produce in life because the way God has gifted us could just it could be different. But but you can be as faithful as the apostle Paul and what God has called you to in this world. All right. So results. The results are not up to us and how we do things in this world or what’s accomplished. What God calls us to is is really faithfulness. And in that faithfulness, what Paul is showing us is three ways to make a greater impact.

Let me just give you point number one in your notes and we’ll start off in this passage. But point number one is this have a godly dream to achieve. Have a godly dream to achieve. Meaning you’re running for something and you see this idea peppered all over what the apostle Paul says in verse 22 to verse 24. Maybe. Now give me a click. Area 22. This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now we’re going to talk about what hindered him in a moment. He’s an indication of the verses previous to this, but he says, But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have long for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain and to be helped on my journey there by you once. I have enjoyed your company for a while. So you see this idea of a of a dream being painted in the Apostle Paul’s speech here. He’s talking about what he’s longed for and what he’s hoped for, giving this indication that that that Paul’s eyes are not finished, that he continues to look forward and what God desires to do, that Paul has a dream in how the the Lord can use him to to proclaim the gospel in this world and what God desires to do. So when we talk in terms of a dream, we’re not talking about any particular dream that you might have, but but a Christ centric, gospel driven dream of what you desire the Lord to do in your life and through your life.

And this is where the the Apostle Paul is in his relationship with with the Lord, is that he’s dreaming this way. And he’s really this this idea of this dream. He’s indicating his built previous to verse 22. He’s saying that he’s been hindered from fulfilling this. Right. He’s been hindered from going to to Rome where he’s writing this epistle. Right. He wants to come to them and not just stop in Rome. But but he sees the church in Rome not only as a place to fellowship and encourage, but a place to to then be sent from in order to get to Spain to head further west for the sake of the gospel. So he wants to join the believers in Rome, but see what God could do within that church to send the Apostle Paul on further mission to unreached people groups around the world. And so Paul has his sights on Spain. But the thing that’s hindered the apostle Paul to this point is exactly what’s also calling the apostle Paul to go further in his life, which is the gospel, the apostle Paul, his life radically changed by by the Lord. He then uses that as an opportunity to go around the world wherever God leads him to, to preach the gospel.

And in verse 16 of this chapter, it’s not on the screen that Paul identifies his life as, as one God has particularly called to reach the Gentiles to the ends of the earth. He even says in verse 21 that God’s heart’s desire is to see the Gentiles come to know Christ. And so he’s saying because of that, that goal that God has given him, because of that dream that God has written on his heart, that he’s been hindered to to go any further because he still finds in the region in which he’s called places where he needs to reach out to. And so in obedience to that, the Apostle Paul continues to minister in those regions before he then begins to think beyond those boundaries towards Rome and to Spain. And so when when Paul is talking about being hindered here, his he’s got a this hindrance gives an indication that the apostle Paul has a has a dream of of deep conviction something that something that’s going to drive him even in adversity that this has been on his heart and on his mind how far the Lord could lead him to go to proclaim God’s word to the ends of the earth. And this idea of this this hindrance is one of a it’s a military term for a trench. Anytime that a soldiers would go into a battle against another group if they wanted to, to oppose their enemy by by preventing them from advancing, they would they would dig deep trenches in order to prohibit their their advancement against them.

And so the apostle Paul is saying as he’s moving forward, he’s come to this this hindrance, this trench, and it’s not God’s time at this moment to cross this over. So he’s recognizing that God has has more work for him to do. And the point of this dream that Paul is sharing with us is to recognize it’s really it’s not about him being famous or promoting himself. It’s about it’s really about not not even him being a hero at all, but rather pointing to the great hero that is Christ. And so, Paul, dreaming and and seeing God made known in this world and to be faithful to the Lord while he’s doing it. I love how he’s painting this story while while he’s thinking about Rome and he’s thinking about Spain. He he also recognizes God’s given him a responsibility where he’s at. He needs to be faithful first to the call God has given him before he he grows beyond that. And for us as we think in terms of what God desires of our lives and any dreams that we have in him, a godly dream for tomorrow is always built on the faithfulness of today. And Paul knows this, which is why, even as he thinks about this hindrance, prohibiting him from advancing forward, he’s reflecting on the fact that he wants to be faithful to the calling God has given him so that he could be free then to continue to expand beyond where God has him.

And when you think, as the Apostle Paul is sharing this dream of expanding on to Spain for the sake of the gospel, what’s interesting in church history during this time that the Rome had actually really about this point in history, conquered all the way over to Spain. And so this is a new region, new territory. And Rome was said to have conquered really the known world. So by the apostle Paul saying he wants to advance to Spain. He’s saying he’s going to this this new territory, really unchartered for for Rome just beginning these places. But he wanted to go to the ends of the earth as far as the the known world was at the time for the for the sake of the gospel. And some may ask the question, well, did Paul ever make it? Is there any indication in scripture that that Paul made it to to to from Rome and on to Spain? We know Paul made it to Rome because his martyrdom is communicated us in church history as having happened in Rome. But but you have to go really beyond scripture to find out if Paul ever made it to Spain, because no biblical indication other than Paul’s heart shared here that he desired to go to Spain.

But what you find in church history is that early church fathers recorded journeys of the Apostle Paul that led him to Spain. And so Paul eventually, according to church history, got there. In fact, Clement of Rome, who was church leader in Rome, and he was alive during the apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul’s days. 20 years after Paul wrote the the epistle to the Romans and ten years after Paul’s martyrdom, he writes in his own letters about the the apostle Paul making it to to Rome. He says this Paul, by his example, pointed out the way to the prize for patient endurance after he had been seven times in chains and had been driven into exile, had been stoned and had preached in the east and in the west. And by the way, let me just acknowledge a couple of things here. One, he’s talking about the patient endurance of Paul in this dream. He wants to fulfill this dream that God’s put on his heart, but he also wants to be faithful to the call of God’s given him in that moment, not to just abandon, because future dreams are built on the faithfulness of today, who you want to be. Tomorrow you start implementing now. And to the extent that even this dream is not wrecked by adversity. Right, Because real dreams of deep conviction are willing to pay the cost to to endure through the adversity because the reward is worth it.

And that’s the apostle Paul in this story. Right. He reached in the east and in the west. He won the genuine glory for his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world and having reached the farthest limits of the West. Now, some church leaders specifically name Spain. But what what Clement is acknowledging is as far as Rome went west, that’s that’s as far as Paul went. And during this time period was the area of Spain. Paul’s dream. Included Rome. It included Spain. But can I tell you, it’s only because his dream was deeper than just a location. Paul’s dream was to go to the ends of the earth with the gospel in order to invite people to Jesus. It wasn’t about where he was going as much as it was about being obedient to share what God had called him to share. The result of that is it led him to places to be faithful in Christ because the Apostle Paul had a special gifting and a special calling. To go to reach the Gentiles with the gospel. He was the apostle to the Gentiles. Now, that doesn’t mean that that that eliminates us from the calling of sharing what God has done in our lives with others. But it is recognizing the uniqueness of of the Apostle Paul’s life. So so let me just ask you in relation to this. Do you have a godly dream? What is it you desire? God to do in your life.

Can I as you think about godly dreams and you see the Apostle Paul’s example in this passage, can I can I just encourage you in terms of godly dreams, sometimes when we think about what it is God desires to do in our life, we think about people because ministry is about people. It’s about reaching people and impacting people. And maybe, maybe to start off in that godly dream that that that that people that you want to impact is your own heart. What Christ should be to me and how do I know him and walk with him. But as you come to know Jesus and you start walking with Jesus, then you start thinking about beyond you how God can use you. That what happened in you can now be lived through you and you start thinking about the hearts of others. I think it’s great to have godly dreams to to influence your family. I think that’s your first ministry that God calls you to in this world is to impact the home. Because as you impact the home, God expands your opportunity to impact the world. Right? So so it should start in the home. But then you think about other relationships beyond that. And while your heart may be for those relationships, God doesn’t call you to to to necessarily well, he doesn’t call you to manipulate hearts. He doesn’t call you to force people to embrace what you believe.

Right. It’s a great goal to want to be a godly influence in the lives of people around you, but it doesn’t necessitate that they’re always going to come to know the Lord. Rather, what our heart should be in those situations is just to be faithful, to be faithful where God has put us to make a difference in the lives of people, regardless of what they do or don’t do to honor him. I think even as the apostle Paul, when he’s thinking about Rome and Spain, he has no idea what Rome and Spain are going to be like. But. But he knows the God he He follows and he knows his desires to honor God wherever he goes. And the results, the results are up to him. So we think in terms of a godly dream, I think it’s great to have goals in mind or a dream in mind that might include the hearts of people that you want to reach or a particular people group or a place and the way in which you want to live. But but regardless of how they respond or don’t respond, our dream is to always honor God first. To live faithful in relationship with him. I would say for us here at Alpine Bible Church, do we have a dream? Yes. I mean, that dream is included seeing a church built here in our community. Right. But but our dream has always been bigger than ourselves because we know the gospel is not just simply given to you.

Right. But the gospel is a gift to you to be used through you, not only in you, but through you. It’s intended to be given away. And one of the most unhealthy things that you can be as a Christian is stagnant. If you want to know what stagnation produces, you have to do, and especially this time of year, is go down to the Great Salt Lake. Right? Because if you know you’ve been to the Great Salt Lake this time of year, this is the time the bugs hatch. And it sucks. Right? Like, I’m sorry to say that, but but you get near that shore and they just they just bombard you. It’s not good. Right. And the reason the Great Salt Lake is like that is because all the water flows to it and nothing flows out of it. It’s stagnant. And when things get stagnant, it gets gross. And the same is true in the life of the believer that God not only wants to do a work in you, but He desires to do a work through you. And so for for our church, even while we have a place here to gather and to proclaim God’s name. Beautiful, beautiful. But but more than that, because we understand that God wants to do a work through us. And so our our desire may be a bit ambitious, but we want to be a part of seeing a healthy church in every town in Utah.

We want to see a non-denominational, healthy, evangelical based right church living in light of Christ biblically, holding to the truths of God’s word that have been proclaimed throughout the centuries. We we want to be driven in that way. We want to see a healthy church in every town. And and part of our our dream to to see that for a church we’ve been working to create leadership training and conference for for for pastors and vision trips we’re inviting we’ll have several missions teams here next week being taught about Utah and vision trips. We’re inviting people to to learn about the needs and the ministry here. And we even have plans this fall for a seminary to train church planters in Utah, fully accredited seminary, to be able to start to support church planting, which this week you guys, we sent as a church $4,000 to a church in Spanish Fork that’s about to start just to help them in their initial launch as as a church in that community church revitalization. We helped a church this past year in Brigham City that was not looking healthy at the moment just to revitalize itself and to get strengthened. We’re not about us. We’re about God’s kingdom and what He wants to do through us. But but can I tell you, behind all of those dreams.

We know that none of it is possible. None of it is possible. Unless God’s people are surrendered to him. Unless we as God’s people, are driven to know Him and to glorify him with our lives. And that’s really the secret to Paul’s dreams. To be faithful to the Lord wherever God led his life. And he recognized that as his hope was to Spain, that he needed to honor God also where he was because God hadn’t opened the door for him to go there yet. Point. Point number two, then having a godly dream to achieve. Point number two is make a biblical plan to follow. Make a biblical plan to follow. It’s been said this way from from several different people. Here’s a quote for you. Vision without action is just a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. But vision with action can change the world. And in verse 25, you start to see how how Paul wants to implement this dream in his life. He starts to lay out an action plan. This is this is the process that I’m going to go go through in order to get where I feel like God is leading my heart, though it may not be right now. And in verse 25, at present, however, I’m going to Jerusalem, bringing aid to the Saints for for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem, by the way, Macedonia and Ikea, the region of Macedonia is where Philippi and Thessalonica are, which are two epistles in your book where churches were planted and Achaia is where Corinth is, where the Book of Corinthians was written, Athens, where Mars Hill, the great message of Mars Hill was given.

And so those are those are the regions that are making a contribution for the poor among the Saints at Jerusalem, verse 27, for they were pleased to do it and indeed, they owe it to them, for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessing, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. The Apostle Paul, in this moment, he’s telling us at present where he is meaning, okay, so this is my goal, this is the dream. But here’s the reality at the present, and here comes my plan. This is how how it’s going to work. And when Paul starts to articulate his plan of how he’s going to get to Spain, what’s interesting in the story is he starts to describe how he’s going to get to Spain by going the opposite direction rather than head west. Excuse me. He heads west rather than head west. He heads east. There you go. And so the apostle Paul, before he can begin to move forward, he’s taken a step back. He’s taken a step in really another direction to to minister in a in a completely different area than where he feels God in the long term might be leading him.

And what he’s really teaching us is that a long term dream may take time to formulate and fulfill meaning. When the Apostle Paul started his ministry, the apostle Paul, he was came to know Jesus and he was ten years serving the Lord before he ever went on his first missionary journey, ten years serving in local churches in Tarsus and Antioch before the church in Antioch, which is just north of Jerusalem, had commissioned him to go on his first missionary journey, and before that church had commissioned him to go on his first missionary journey. I doubt the apostle Paul the minute he came to know Christ instantly thought, I got to go to Spain, right? I doubt he thought at his first missionary journey when he was called, okay, we’re going to go on this journey, but ultimately we’re going to go to Spain. I think what the Apostle Paul learned on the journey is how God’s hand was faithful to him every step of the way. And it was along that journey that God built confidence in the Apostle Paul and everything that God had promised him and who He was, right? The Apostle Paul, as he’s going on this journey, he met a God, though he faced adversity, was more than sufficient to supply what he needed to carry out what God had called him to. And as he watched God be faithful every step of the way, I think it expanded the Apostle Paul’s ability to dream of what God could do.

And so before he could get to the place of even talking about Spain, Paul needed to see the Lord be faithful on his first missionary journey, on his second missionary journey, on his third missionary journey before he got to his fourth, and who knows how many he went on because church history does not record that for us. But but the Apostle Paul, in order to get to that place, he took a step back. I mean, when you look at Paul’s life, in order to get to the point that he has in ministry to write these kind of things. He. He followed and read scripture as a Jewish man dedicated to it. Then when he came to know Christ, he he got further into God’s word from from now, being a Christian for the next three years, studying God’s word, really in isolation. Before he he went on to Tarsus and eventually Antioch. And he’s faithfully serving the Lord in the church. And and then when when God calls him on to his first missionary journey, he doesn’t make that decision individually. But the church is confirming that giftedness in him in Barnabas before they even send them out. And the apostle Paul now has been faithfully in all sorts of adversity. Following after after Christ to to make him known around the world before he even gets to a place to talk about Spain.

And in order to do that, Paul is also teaching us in this passage that he’s not forsaking his foundation. He’s not saying, look, I’m just looking ahead and forget what lies behind me, though, in Christ. I think we do that when Jesus gives us right. We’re able to lay that behind the the sins of the past in order to run in Jesus. But Paul also wants to honor the past, where we’re where God has made himself known and the foundation He’s established. As he thinks about the future, He’s remembering where he’s been in Christ and where he’s going in the Lord. And so Paul wants to go back and honor the foundation, which is why he’s going to Jerusalem, where where the church, the cradle of Christianity began, because he knows the brothers in Christ are suffering there. And the church, God’s community wants to support that. And so he’s not forsaking his foundation, but rather what the apostle Paul is doing is including God’s community in it. He understands that this dream isn’t just his dream being made known, but Christ’s dream being made known through his people, that there’s a place for God’s people to participate in what God wants to do in this world. And so He’s not just traveling to Spain at the exclusion of the church, but Paul is moving in these relationships to include the church.

In this dream, he’s going back to to Jerusalem to communicate to this church and from Ephesus and Antioch and Philippi and Thessalonica, he he wants God’s community seeing how all of them can be a part of what God desires to do as he prepares to then go to Rome and on to Spain. How God works in unity to achieve his plan. God is a God that delights in the partnership of his people for the sake of the gospel around this world. And Paul, we learn, is even willing to do that to the extent of sacrifice. If you know how the Apostle Paul’s story lays out in Scripture, you know that when he leaves, he’s writing. He’s writing the letter of the Romans in the city of Corinth, and he’s about to journey east. He’s going to go to the town of Miletus, which is just south of Ephesus, and meet with the Ephesians Ephesian elders south and just south of Ephesus and then go on to Jerusalem. And when he gets to Jerusalem, he’s going to face persecution. The Apostle Paul knows that. But he’s willing to do it. In fact, in Acts Chapter 20, I think one of the most powerful passages in the Book of Acts, the apostle Paul meets with the Ephesian elders and tells us in these in these moments, he’s weeping with them because he loves them. He spent a number of years in Ephesus. He’s built a deep relationship with his church.

He he cares about this church. And he also knows this is the last time he’s probably going to be with this church because of the persecution ahead of him. And it says in Acts 20 and now behold, I’m going to Jerusalem, constrained by the spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there. Except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city, the imprisonment and afflictions that await me. You hear in the story the apostle Paul has just written. His dream is to go to Spain. He acts 20. He doesn’t even know if he’s ever going to fulfill that dream. We got is written that on his heart for the sake of people. Except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and affliction await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself. If only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the Gospel of the Grace of God. And now behold, I know that none of you, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. The apostle Paul goes through. This sacrifice for the sake of the people in Spain to know Jesus. And it’s not about his glory. It’s about Christ’s glory. Paul is completely willing to make the sacrifice because he has found in life all he needs in order to be content is in Jesus.

All his hopes and dreams that this world may offer are nothing in comparison to what he has in Jesus. I love this about Christianity. It’s the distinguishment really, of Christianity from every other religion in this world. Every other religion in this world. Your performance is about receiving your own exaltation. You do good in order to make God in your debt so that God has to owe you something. God has to exalt you because of your performance. And that is not Christianity. Christianity. What compels God’s people is not trying to prove to God our worthiness. What compels God’s people is Christ’s worthiness over us. The God would love us and meet us in our brokenness and in our sin and give his identity on us that we can be renewed in Jesus forgiven, restored, redeemed in Christ, and have a future promise in Jesus so that no matter what happens in this world, what we have in Christ lasts. And Paul, because his life was so radically transformed by this gospel, he’s willing to go to the ends of the earth to share it with others. And then in verse 28, it goes on and says this. It says, When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected. Talking about those in Jerusalem, I will leave for Spain. By way of you talking to the church in Rome.

I will get to Spain by your help. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. What the Apostle Paul is saying in this passage is that his life from beginning to end was simply just being faithful to Jesus. That God has given his heart’s desire to see the Gentile world come to know Christ, and He’s going to able to do this well with the church in Rome, because he knows that no matter the expense, he he’s going to follow Jesus faithfully. Because his heart has always been about not his his own personal gain, but Christ made known to the lost. In fact, in the book of Philippians, Paul told us in his own life, he discovered that contentment in Jesus and Philippians, the letter written from from jail, he says, and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Jesus, in Christ Jesus. I know, he says in verse 12, How to get along with little and also know how to live in prosperity. And in any and every circumstance. I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering in need in verse 19 and my God will supply all your needs according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul has discovered, I think, in his own journeys with the Lord, that as God called him into this Gentile world, the faithfulness of God, no matter the circumstance he was in, which gave him the ability to dream bigger to the ends of the earth.

And what about you? Having a godly dream in Christ. What’s your action plan? A vision. Without. Without a plan. It’s just a dream. But with a plan, it can change the world. What is it? God desires for you in your life right now to strengthen you as a believer in order to carry on what God has called you to in this world. Or maybe like in the Apostle Paul, what is God called you to? To be faithful to him. To see how God desires to to move you in this world, to make a difference for his glory. Point number three in your notes. Maintain constant prayer on the journey. Maintain constant prayer on the journey. Not only does Paul show us the importance of a dream in Christ and the importance of making a plan in Christ to see that dream fulfilled, but He also encourages us to maintain constant prayer for the journey that we have in him. And I think this is important for for really all of us as believers to understand the significance of prayer, because we often we often see prayer as a as a magic wand to tell God how to join me on my journey in order to make me more comfortable in this world.

That’s really how we we use prayer. Prayer is just this tool God’s given me as this magic wand to tell him what I’m doing so he can join me in that to make my life more comfortable. Our prayers tend to focus on things that will make life easy because our goal really isn’t isn’t always about glorifying God, but about being comfortable. And let me just say, it’s not wrong to tell God the struggles you’re facing in life. It’s not wrong to want God to change those struggles, but to make that the ultimate goal in itself is to neglect the whole beauty of what prayer is about. God certainly cares about the struggles in your life. God certainly cares about the problems that you face. But rather prayer is not about asking God to join us, but rather recognizing our privilege to join him. Prayer is a way to seek him. So he transforms our life and empowers us to fulfill his plan in this world, because we can easily, as people, get distracted and get discouraged. And when we get to that place, it leads us to this place of despair. And so in verse 30, this is what Paul says to the church. I appeal to you, brothers by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the Saints.

God knows, Paul knows there is tension between the Gentiles and the Jews within the body of Christ. Paul knows how important it is that the Gentiles have given this gift to give to the church in Jerusalem. That God can do a reconciling and healing work, that as they see the Gentile group sacrificing and love for Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ, Though there be tension in the church between the two that God can bring great healing in that. And. When you have conflict in relationship. Can I can I tell you the first step in finding healing in that conflict in relationship? It’s humility. It’s humility. Proud people fight. Humble people do not. Now it takes two in that relationship to see full reconciliation. But humility is where it starts. And Paul knows that God’s desire is to work through his church united to accomplish God’s will in this world. And so Paul, I think, considers this a sacred privilege to go back to Jerusalem and the Gentiles, having sacrificed for their brothers sisters in Christ, where Christianity began the cradle. They’re looking past the conflict in order to love the believer because they love what God has done in their life, even though there may be tension. And so Paul goes back to to Jerusalem to love on the people. But Paul also knows it’s not going to be easy. And the way that the Apostle Paul encourages the church to participate with him in this is to pray.

Church pray. And when he talks about praying, he doesn’t just say take. Take two seconds out of your time and just toss up something randomly to God. He uses the word strive and strive. It’s an athletic term. This word strive is the same word that they would use for striving when when two wrestlers would. During the the Greco-Roman games would wrestle together. They would strive with one another or two boxers. When they get in the ring, they would strive. They’re working it out right in prayer. And so Paul is carrying the same attitude. Strive with me. Strive with me here because he’s recognizing in verse 31, one of the most difficult things about ministry is also one of the most beautiful things about ministry as people. People, right? Paul So Paul going to Jerusalem because you think can could you imagine the reconciliation beauty God could create as a Gentiles, give to the Jews in Jerusalem the beauty that communicates about unity and God’s people, though there may be a tension at some point in the church that they still love and they still care, and they’re walking with this humility, beautiful the way God can work in that. But. Without humility. Could you imagine how nasty it could get? The people in Judea and the church in Jerusalem and how they were to receive him. And so, Paul, relationally, he’s acknowledging that things can get difficult when you serve the Lord.

The great blessing of ministry is people and sometimes something that makes it difficult. It’s people. And when we go through that kind of experience in life, we really when we face that kind of adversity in relationships as human beings, we we tend to respond one of two ways. We either blow up or we close up. We either respond in anger or we act passive. And can I tell you, God wants neither of those for your life. Rather what God desires to do in your life. Is for you to walk truthfully and graciously. To speak biblical truth in love. It’s not about picking sides right now in our culture, man. It seems like that is we’re just ripping our country apart by picking sides. Everyone pick a side. Who are you for? Can I tell you I don’t want to be for any side. I want to be for Jesus. I know sometimes that that. Yes, Biblically speaking, there may be a one more right than the other. But. But. But. But. But I really more than someone else’s kingdom. I want to live for his. And I think this is the Apostle Paul stepping in this moment. And he comes in that tension that tends to be how we react as people. We just want to pick sides and cast stones to the other side. Right. And rather than reach a heart through the gospel that changes lives, we’d rather make enemies out of people than to walk in grace and truth.

God does not want us to blow up. God doesn’t want us to be passive either. God wants us to share His truth graciously with others because we understand that’s how God changed my life. And that’s how God changed your life. While we were yet sinners. Christ meets us in our deepest of needs. Give us us a place to confess our sins and find reconciliation in him. This is why Paul says in Colossians four six, Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Can I tell you what kind of response that is? That’s a supernatural response because our tendency as people is not to respond that way. It’s either anger or just completely clam up and move on. Ignore it. That’s not who God calls us to be. And in order to be the kind of person God calls us to be, it takes a supernatural work of the Lord in our lives to lay our life down in Him in order for the benefit of the others that they may know Christ as well. That may they have the opportunity to follow after Him. The only way this happens is by Christ. And this is exactly why the Apostle Paul is saying, Strive with me in prayer, because I know my flesh and my flesh either wants to run away or knock him out.

But there’s what Jesus wants to do. And what Jesus wants to do is far better than anything I’m going to produce in me. Strive in me as I’m stepping into this, because this is not going to be easy. The same is true for you when you think about a godly dream and you think about a plan you should expect in your life, if it’s if it’s biblical, it will meet some opposition because the world stands contrary to Christ. But you, rather than anger rather than just ignore, walk faithfully to demonstrate the good hand of Christ as you by grace, speak his truth in this world. And Paul says this then so that by God’s will, I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all. Amen. Here’s what he’s saying, because Church in Rome when I get to you. I just want to rejoice over a life of faithfulness in Jesus. I want to spend time with you and not sulking in the past or regretting what’s happened, but really being thankful for how God’s hand has led me as I walk faithfully with him. And the same is true with you. Do you think about the dream God can shape in your heart and the plan in your life and where God calls you to in this moment? Look.

Yesterday you may have not done that to the best of of what God has called you to, but I just want us to think about today, right now, what God desires for your life. You cannot change yesterday. And thank God his grace is big enough to cover it. But it’s about demonstrating the gracious hand of God as you walk. In truth, today, what is it God desires for your life? Hudson Taylor I’ll end with this one. Hudson Taylor was a missionary to to China. Went in the 1850s when he first went to China. There was just a maybe a dozen or so that went on these missionary journeys. After 50 years of ministry, over 50 years of ministry in China at the end of his life. There were thousands of volunteers who were signed up to do ministry in China. The mark of Hudson Taylor’s life. Was one of faithfulness, a dream that followed. A plan built on prayer. Faithfully pursuing the Lord. Hudson. Taylor said it like this. He said, God isn’t looking for people of great faith. But for individuals ready to follow him. There are three stages to every great work of God. First. It is impossible. Then it is difficult. Finally it is done. And one of the beautiful things of stepping out for the Lord, taking a risk, is seeing the faithful hand of God not just working in the lives of others, but building your own confidence in him and how he produces what he promises not only in you, but through your life.

Romans 15:14-21

Romans 16:1-16