Romans – “Therefore”
Here we are, on mission, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. We only have a few days left. We reflect on our journey here with thanksgiving in our hearts and praise for the Master. We thank God for all the friends we have made from the very young to the more mature. We thank God for seeing those in person whom we have written to, prayed for and loved from a distance.
We think of YOU, the people who read this everyday, often, briefly or “bank it” to read later with prayers of humble thanksgiving. We pray that our God in You will use this as an encouragement by God’s Holy Spirit to not give up doing what is good in God’s eyes. We pray that what is written is helpful to you. We pray for you when God calls you to our mind with thanksgiving, prayers for protection and provision, and prayers for His grace lived out in you to be a blessing to others.
We thank God for our family and friends who pray often for Randy and I. We thank God for those we’ve not met for opportunity to tell the story of Jesus.
As Paul begins each letter, he thanks God for those to whom He is writing. It is refreshing that he begins with, “I thank God through Jesus Christ for ever on of you. That’s first.” What a positive way to begin a letter to those you love because of God’s love for you. “That’s first.”, Paul writes. Is that what is first when we shoot a fast email, text or Facebook message to a loved one who is a family member or friend, even a co-worker? What a concept to stop and thank God for them before telling them what you want to tell them and to let them know that you thank God for them. What value and encouragement that must give to them!
Yes, I thank God for you. That’s first. Now, let’s dive into the next section of Paul’s letter to the Romans to learn more and to put into practice what Paul has learned from God and his experiences, led by God’s Holy Spirit.
Romans 1, The Message
8-12 I thank God through Jesus for every one of you. That’s first. People everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith, and every time I hear them, I thank him. And God, whom I so love to worship and serve by spreading the good news of his Son—the Message!—knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you.
13-15 Please don’t misinterpret my failure to visit you, friends. You have no idea how many times I’ve made plans for Rome. I’ve been determined to get some personal enjoyment out of God’s work among you, as I have in so many other non-Jewish towns and communities. But something has always come up and prevented it. Everyone I meet—it matters little whether they’re mannered or rude, smart or simple—deepens my sense of interdependence and obligation. And that’s why I can’t wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God.
16-17 It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”
What do we learn?
–FIRST, thank God for all the people He puts in our path on this journey.
–Speak words that are Truthful, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind (THINK) from a foundation of God’s love in us, our love for Him and our love for others.
–Be wise and discerning. We can ask God for wisdom and discernment and He will provide.
–Be excited as you tell others you are happy to see them.
–Tell others specifically you are are praying for them.
–Be truly thankful for all the people God gives us.
–God’s people who are gratefully expectant expect nothing in return for kindness to others but it seems we do get something in return…there love and kindness back to us! “You have as much to give me as I do to you.” This is all part of the Love God, Love Others revolution.
–The more we love God and realize HIS love for us, as Paul did, the more profoundly and deeply we love others.
–Will ALL people love us back? Not always, but we love anyway. Some people we have to wait on, forgive more and extend grace in the wait. Pretty sure that’s what God did for us.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I love you with all my heart, mind and soul. You teach us to love by your love for us. I thank You for being with us, leading and directing us wherever we go and wherever we stay. I thank you for the readers of these words today. I pray You will encourage each one as You have encouraged us with Your message through Paul. Continue to transform our thinking so we will behave more like you desire for us. Help us to love like you love…without conditions.
In Jesus Name, Amen.