There should be no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian. #churchfamily
Romans 16:5b-15 “Greet my beloved Epaenetus,…Mary,…Andonicus and Junia,…Ampliatus,…Urbanus,…Stachus,…Apelles,…the family of Aristobulus,…Herodion,…the family of Narcissus,…Tryphaena and Tryphosa,…Persis,…Rufus and his mother,….Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers with them,…Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister,…Olympas and all the saints with them.”
What is the significance of Paul mentioning these brothers and sisters by name in the last of his letter to the Romans? Were they somehow more special than others? The answer to those questions is not expressed in the status of these men and women, but in the loving relationships they shared with Paul. Believers, by nature of what they share, should be the first among all humanity to be in close relationship with one another. It is completely antithetical to be a “Lone Ranger Christian.” God made us for relationship, and Paul exemplifies in his closing remarks that close relationships between believers is not only a beautiful thing—it is a necessary thing. After all, it is with these brothers and sisters that we will one day stand in the presence of our King and say, “We’re here!” Certainly this is the most precious foundation for love and friendship ever known to man.
Study/Meditation: In light of the importance of relationships within the family of God, how important is it that we get connected to a local church?
*Father, thank You for my spiritual family. Help me to be a blessing to them as they are a blessing to me. Amen.
Christianity and mission work are synonymous vocations. #missions
Romans 16:3-5a “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house.”
Every church should have men and women whom they send out into the world as missionaries. However, how do we categorize those who would go? Oftentimes, we see them as “professional missionaries.” In other words, we think that those who are sent out into the mission field are trained for that profession and equipped with some trade that would benefit those to whom they would evangelize. Paul’s greetings teach us something entirely different, though. Prisca, more commonly referred to in the bible as Priscilla, and her husband, Aquila, are tentmakers by trade. We learn from Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy that they had successively moved from Pontus to Rome, Corinth, then Ephesus, then back to Rome and then finally back to Ephesus again. Each time they moved they had a church in their home while they continued in their trade of tent making. Even though their business required travel, this couple used this time to work for Christ, building churches and teaching the gospel wherever they lived. They were common people with a common trade who used every possible opportunity to spread the kingdom of Christ and establish His church throughout the land. All of us must see ourselves as missionaries, whether in our own neighborhoods or in other parts of the world. God intends for us to use all that we are and all that we have to further His truth. Don’t wait. “Christian” and “missionary” are synonymous.
Study/Meditation: How is God calling you into the mission field today?
*Father, help me see where I am to be used in the mission field for Your work. Give me the courage and wisdom to step into the place where You would have me go. Amen.
Christians should take care of each other. #churchfamily
Romans 16:1-2 “I commend to you our sister, Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.”
In Paul’s closing remarks in his letter to the Roman Christians, he speaks of sixteen people by name. What a beautiful commentary on the family of God! In these first two verses he commends Phoebe to them. She most likely was the one carrying the letter since she was coming from Cenchreae and that is where scholars think Paul was wintering when he wrote it. He calls her a “sister,” a “servant,” and a “patron.” First he is once again stressing our relationship to one another as family. When a member of your immediate family, a brother or a sister, comes into town, you take care of them. We all have the same Heavenly Father and we share in the same eternal inheritance. Paul is reminding all of us to take care of those in our family. In referring to her as a “servant” and a “patron,” Paul is commending her as one who has faithfully worked and supported the church through her work and support of Paul and his companions. Our church family is not confined to those we share a building with on Sunday morning. Our church family is anyone and everyone throughout the world who serves and supports the work of our Father. Let us remember to treat all of them as family, which translates both emotionally and materially.
Study/Meditation: How can you better take care of your eternal family, both in your immediate church and in the world?
*Father, thank You for my eternal family. Help me to see the ways in which I should support and serve them. Amen.
Where do you look for peace? #Godofpeace
Romans 15:33 “May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.”
Our Father has many titles—God of love, Lord of Creation, Sustainer of the Universe, Righteous Judge—but Paul lands on one particular title in his prayer for the Romans Christians—God of peace. For most of this letter, the apostle had been writing instructions and admonitions on how the church in Rome should behave toward one another so that they exhibit proper Christian attitudes. Finally, he ends by lovingly praying over them the one means by which they could ever attain such lives, and this is through our God who brings true peace. Only when we know Him, only when we live for Him, only when we submit our lives to Him can we let go of every other earthly injustice or temporal struggle. When we focus our attentions on His glory and His majesty, as well as on the gracious gift of mercy He has given to us, then “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, (will guard our) hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) There is peace with our brothers and sisters and there is peace in this temporary home when we live in the knowledge that God is our God. How precious to pray that blessing over one another today and every day.
Study/Meditation: How does the world tell us to attain peace? Why is true peace only attainable in and through God?
*Father, please grant to my brothers and sisters Your peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray for that glorious peace in my life, as well. Thank You. Amen.
The church family should be a place of refuge for the believer. #church
Romans 15:32 “…so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.”
The famous American writer, Thomas Wolfe, wrote, “You can’t go home again.” For the Christian, this statement is wonderfully untrue—at least it should be. Whereas Wolfe was referring to returning to our childhood homes, saying that it will always be different after we leave and then return, our church home and the “home” we share among our brothers and sisters in Christ should always be that place of refreshing and joy when we enter. Paul was appealing to the Roman Christians to pray for him on his journeys so that he would not be discouraged. His desire was to be able to return to them and be refreshed in the company of his “home,” in the company of his family. This is what our church family should be. Unlike another statement by Wolfe, “Home is the place where when you go there, they have to take you in,” coming into your church family should be, “Home is the place where when you go there, they want to take you in.” Belonging to and connecting with a local church is so very important in the lives of believers. The world is not our home, but how wonderful that we have a family while we dwell here temporarily. Seek refreshment from your Christian family, and likewise be that place of refreshing for your brethren. This is what being a family is truly all about. (Quotes taken from: You Can’t Go Home Again, by Thomas Wolfe, 1940)
Study/Meditation: What practical ways should a church family be that place of refreshing for its members? What can you do to facilitate that for your brothers and sisters in Christ?
*Father, thank You for my church family. Help me to be a family to them, loving them and refreshing them as a family should. Amen.
Does God always answer the prayers of His children? #prayer
Romans 15:30b-31 “…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.”
Do you believe in the awesome truth that God answers prayer? Paul did, and his life and ministry lay as a wonderful testimony to us that God answers our prayers abundantly and that He orders circumstances and people so that our prayers may be answered. Paul asked that the Roman church pray specifically for two things: that he be protected from the unbelieving Jews in Judea and that the Jewish Christians to whom he was bringing gifts would accept him. Luke tells us exactly how God answered these prayers in the book of Acts, and we see God using His will to order the will of everyone needed, believer and non-believer alike, so that these prayers are answered. In Acts 21, we read where Paul was met with a hostile city and God used the will of the Roman officials to save His servant from the angry mob. (Acts 21:27-36) Then also in Acts 23, Luke writes of the plot to kill Paul while he was in prison. God directed the actions of a Roman centurion and Paul’s nephew to save the apostle from this assassination plot. (Acts 23:12-24) Finally, we can also read in Acts 21:17 that the Roman Christians’ prayers that Paul be received by the Christians in Jerusalem was answered: “When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly.” God not only answers the prayers of the saints, but He does whatever is necessary, using whoever He wills so that those prayers are answered. What an awesome God we serve!
Study/Meditation: God always answers our prayers, though the answer may not come exactly as we plan. What examples from your life can you think of that attest to this fact? How was God’s manner of answering so much better than what you had in mind?
*Father, thank You for hearing the prayers of Your children and answering so that we are all given what is best for us and what glorifies You. Amen.