No message audio from yesterday, but we didn’t post last week’s message so we will post the Matthew 2 sermon today.
Yesterday we started studying the book of Romans. We studied Romans 1:1-17, and I will post my notes in case you want to read them. Enjoyed our time in worship yesterday. Our music team continues to do an outstanding job, and the silence and sharing during Open Worship were refreshing and challenging.
Worship Sharing: Romans 1:1-17
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—
I am reading from Romans 1, if you would like to follow along as we study the first half of Romans 1 this morning.
Paul, … we don’t start letters off like this anymore. Or e-mails? Or … name your way to communicate powered by technology. We don’t even have to say our name when we call people anymore, because of caller ID and saved phone numbers taking care of this task for us.
Paul starts his letter to the church in Rome off with his first name we usually end with our name, making our identity known only after the letter is read, in less of course they happen to check the name on the return address.
Paul starts of this letter by identifying himself to the church in Rome.
If he had been meeting them in person he would have been saying, “Hi, my name is Paul. I’m a servant of Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.”
How’s that for an opening line?
Paul, is the author of this book, someone else wrote the words down, but make no mistake about it, these are Paul’s words.
Paul identifies himself as a servant or a slave of Jesus. Paul and his audience would have understood the word servant or slave to mean someone who belongs completely to his or her owner without any freedom to leave, or as someone who willingly chooses to serve his or her master.
Both are applicable to Paul, and to us. Paul would have understood that he no longer belonged to himself, but rather, entirely to Jesus.
Do we understand that we no longer belong to ourselves when we give ourselves over to Jesus?
Do we understand that we belong entirely to Jesus as His followers?
Do we live this truth out well?
What does life look like when people belong completely to Christ?
Paul was called to be an apostle, and he was set apart for the Gospel of God.
An apostle was someone commissioned specifically by Christ to minister in and for the Kingdom of God. From Paul’s history and his conversion experience, that we read about in Acts 9 we know this to be true of Paul.
We also know that Paul was set apart for the gospel. Paul had a purpose in life, an obligation to Christ to serve the Good News of Jesus, and to share the message of Christ to the world.
Paul understood that he was set apart by God, uniquely and wonderfully made and separated for this task before he was even born. God had a plan for Paul’s life.
God has a plan for each of our lives. Each of us is an expression of the thought of God, not one of our lives is without meaning. We all have a purpose, a definite thing each of us are to do, that we can only do in our own unique ways.
The Apostle Paul was set apart, and so are we.
Paul knew the reason he was set apart, do we know the reason?
Do we know the purpose God has for each of our lives?
Let’s, like Paul, be obedient in living out our purpose, those things for which we are uniquely and wonderfully made, those things which God has set each of us apart for.
2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
After his initial introduction Paul continues on with his introduction and his greeting by outlining the story of Jesus, before officially greeting the church in Rome.
The story of Jesus was foretold by the prophets, and came to fruition in the incarnate God, the living Christ, and received power through his resurrection from the dead.
Through Jesus Christ, Paul received grace and was set apart to call all people to be obedient to Christ. Paul includes the church in Rome as within his scope and responsibility, while making a personal connection with them.
Paul’s greeting includes a message of grace and peace we often see attached to Paul’s letters.
Two highlights of this section are the Gospel of Incarnation and the Gospel of Resurrection.
The Incarnation is the story of God becoming a human being in the form of Jesus Christ. A quote I read this week says about the incarnation of Christ “He became what we are, to make us what He is.”
We have the opportunity to be like Christ because of the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. In the power of Christ over death we receive salvation as we call on the name of Christ, and believe in Him. As we receive the gift of salvation, and grow in our love for Christ learning from Him and about Him we become more and more like Him.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.
Paul continues his letter with a complement to the church in Rome because of their faith which is known and reported all over the world.
Paul offers thanks to God on their behalf because of their witness to the world.
I think this is an important gesture by the Apostle Paul. Paul was unknown to this church, remember he had never been there, and while they may have heard rumors about him, they didn’t know Paul and he didn’t know them.
Part of Paul’s goal in this letter is to show the church in Rome that he loved them and cared for them, while also possibly disarming any suspicion or skepticism they may have had about him.
By opening with a complement Paul is helping this happen. He is choosing to see the best in them, and this will go a long way in helping the church in Rome hear the content of this letter and receive him once Paul finally does make it to Rome.
Paul is letting the people of the church in Rome know that he believes in them, and in doing so is gaining their trust in him.
In thinking about this I wonder if we practice giving thanks to God for each other enough. Paul hasn’t even spent time with these folks, and he is thanking God for their faith and for them.
Are we thankful for each other? Are we thankful for that of Christ in each other?
Are we thankful for the work of Christ in those sitting around us, and the faith in them that is evident and strong?
Do we, following the example of the apostle, thank God for the faith those around us possess.
If we don’t, what is holding us back? If we do, then, great job!
9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
Paul prays for the church in Rome, God is his witness to this truth. As he prays for the church Paul also prays for himself and for God’s will to be done in his life so Paul can visit the people in Rome whom he so longs to meet.
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
When Paul is finally able to visit the church in Rome his desire is to give them a spiritual gift that will make them strong in their faith. As we read on it appears his desire is that he and the people of the church in Rome will all humbly use their gifts to encourage, teach, and minister to one another.
Paul had an understanding as apostle that he would learn from others while he taught them. This is probably a good example for all of us to follow as we church together, learning and growing in our faith in Jesus right alongside each other.
One of Paul’s desires in being with the church in Rome is to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and also to disciple the believers there. Paul’s terminology of having “a harvest” points to this, and is shared from his simple desire and passion to encourage people from all walks of life to follow Christ, and to become more like Him.
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
Earlier we spoke of Paul being set apart to share the gospel message, and how Paul knew without a doubt that it was for this very reason that he was created and rescued by Christ.
Verses 14 and 15 speak to Paul being set apart.
Out of his calling, out of his being set apart we see Paul’s passion for what he does.
Paul has a sense of obligation to Jesus and to the world to share the story of Jesus, and using Paul’s own words “Greeks and non-Greeks” and “wise and the foolish” we learn that Paul really does understand his calling to be to potentially witness to everyone in the known world at that time.
In verse 15 we see more of Paul’s passion, an eagerness to get to Rome and share the gospel with the church there.
I might be reading or sensing this wrong but as I read these words I catch a glimpse of the joy, happiness, passion, excitement, and enjoyment the Apostle Paul gets from living out his calling, that for which he has been set apart.
This makes sense to me.
If God sets us apart to do a task, and creates us in a unique way to do that task, I would think we ought to get a kick out of whatever it is God would have us to do.
I don’t think God wants us to be miserable. God is a loving Father, and like fathers with their children, God wants the best for us. This includes, I could argue if I had to, a deep desire for us to live out that for which we have been set apart and to enjoy doing ourselves in the process.
Paul was eager to get to Rome so he could minister among the church there. Do we approach ministry, life, and those things God has set us apart for with the same eagerness?
If we are involved in an area of ministry that doesn’t bring us joy, we might be wise to carefully, and reflectively examine our call to make sure we have got it right. If we do have it right, then we live into that calling with our God given uniqueness and ability, and if we don’t have it right then we prayerfully and experimentally over time figure out what God has designed us and set us apart to do.
Thankfully, the things we are set apart for are going to be different for each of us. We are not all going to be like Paul with a sense of obligation to the whole world. But perhaps, we will be called to witness to a certain group of people, or minister in a certain way.
Whatever we are asked by God to do, we simply need to be faithful.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
I think one of the reasons Paul is so eager and passionate about living out his calling is because he trusts who and what is backing him up.
Paul, understood the message of the Gospel, believed the message of the Gospel, and put his trust in the message of the Gospel. Paul was not ashamed or embarrassed by Jesus and His story. Paul embraced Jesus and His story and lived out His calling because of it.
Righteousness comes directly from God, and we learn about righteousness and how to be righteous from Jesus Christ. Righteousness, being in a right relationship with God, being in right standing with God, having the right behavior from God, encourages the righteous to live by faith in Jesus Christ.
As we grow in our righteousness and learn from God’s perfection we begin to live out that perfection in every attribute, every attitude, every action, every behavior, and in every word.
As we grow in our righteousness I believe we will also experience a little bit of joy and passion along the way.
Let’s transition into a time of Open Worship, as we reflect on what has been shared this morning and on the activity of God in our lives during the week. If you feel led to share this morning, what God has asked you to share, we simply ask that you would be obedient in doing so.
I will begin and end this time with prayer.