Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Morning Devotion: Romans 1:8-15

Paul was a great example of how we should treat other Christians. His love and commitment to follow believers was truly beyond compare. I think what stands out to me most is how he was always in prayer for them and very rarely for their health or financial circumstances like we so often pray today. No, his prayer and desire for others was for their faith to be strong and effective. When it was, his prayer was one of thanks. We should look closely at how Paul not only greeted his brethren, but how he prayed for them and use that as an example of what our prayers and fellowship should look like.
Rom 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.
I don't know about you, but I tend to spend much of my prayer time for those who are weak in the faith. I know that it is good to pray for those who need help, but do I really spend any time praying for those who are working diligently for Christ? I need to spend more time in prayer for all my fellow believers who work hard every day to serve the Lord in one capacity or another. This has encouraged me to start doing that today.
Rom 1:9-12 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 
I love that Paul admits that he longs for and needs to be encouraged by his friends in Rome. I can relate to the part of Paul that wants to see his friends to impart some spiritual gift upon them. That fits my personality. I am a worker bee, a fixer, the person who wants to rescue all those who are hurting and I want to be the one who has all the answers. The part I struggle with is admitting that I need to be mutually encouraged by anyone else. My pride tells me that if I need anyone else I am a weak Christian. My arrogance tells me that I am mature enough to not need the counsel of anyone other than God. While God's Word is the only and final authority we should lean on, God has established a family of believers who work together to help us live out our faith. I need to seek that encouragement as well as be that encouragement to others.
Rom 1:13-15 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Paul was eager to be with those in Rome and yet, he was prevented from going. There is no complaining here, no begging God and asking why he couldn't come earlier. He just explains that he was prevented but is now able to come. He accepted whatever circumstances came his way and trusted God through it all. He also continued to work wherever he was. His eagerness was not to get rest or have a vacation. His goal and purpose for going was to preach the gospel. When he was prevented from going he preached the gospel in other places until he could. No matter where he was, including prison, Paul was content to be there and went about doing the work of the Lord. What about you? Is your day filled with a desire, longing, and eagerness to preach the gospel? Or are you wishing you were somewhere else and doing something else?

Keep in mind that Paul's ministry was unique. He was an apostle sent by God to travel the world and share the message. Just because you are not traveling to Rome, or Africa, or anywhere else does not mean you are less of a Christian or that your work is any less important. You can be eager to do the work of the Lord wherever you are. Be careful to not envy and desire a calling that God has not asked of you and instead use the gifts he has given where ever you are in life.

I am a stay at home mom, but I can preach the gospel to my children. Reading God's Word with our children and training them in the way that they should go is important. Even when we are not sitting down and doing an actual study with them they are learning what it is like to be a Christian by watching us. Do they see you take time out of your day to read your own Bible and pray?  Do they see you throw your plans out the window to help a neighbor in need? Do they watch you make decisions about what products you buy, movies you watch, and attitude you have? Yes, as a mother you have the power of Paul to influence, train, and encourage others in the faith on a daily basis!  So be eager to preach the gospel to those who are in your home, you neighborhood, and your community. That is what Paul would do.

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