On Dec. 8, Pastor Jim preaches on Romans 15:4-13.
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”; 10 and again he says, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; 11 and again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; 12 and again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.” 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” — John Lennon
He hoped that someday the world would live as one. Sadly, he never saw it happen. What is your deepest hope?
Some people are naturally optimistic about life while others take their cue from Debbie Downer. Where are you on the “hope-o-meter?”
According to the Apostle Paul we are given hope through the Scriptures: “…by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” We are also given hope directly by God through Christ when we live “in harmony.”
The Roman church was made up of a mixture of Jewish and Gentile Jesus people. They did not necessarily live in harmony, a common state among believers to this day.
“To live in heaven with saints above, O that will be glory. To live on earth with saints below, now that’s another story.”
According to Paul, the cure for disunity is found in worshipping God “with one voice,” and by intentionally welcoming one another, even those who disagree. After all, Christ welcomed us. Welcoming others naturally follows. This, by the way, is the power of “Church.”
In a shocking statement Paul says that “Christ became a servant of the uncircumsized” in order to bring them into the fold and give them the same hope known by the Jewish believers. From our contemporary viewpoint we cannot grasp how radical a statement this was.
Hope is found through the Scriptures and is found when we welcome others, especially those who are “other” than us. Following Christ is more than agreeing to a set of religious tenets, it’s a way of life. It’s loving the other and welcoming him or her into our lives, churches, and homes.