Series: Followers of Jesus
Message: In the Mission
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Jessyka Dooley
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 15:1-33 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: In the paraphrase version we read today I love how simply it describes the results of being “in the mission.”
Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!
As far back as I can remember, I loved going to school assemblies. I think it was because the primary schools I attended in England were often either Church of England or Baptist. This meant that when we gathered in the morning, not only did the teachers provide us with a bottle of milk and a plastic straw (it was the 1970s), but they marched us into assembly where we would sing hymns and the headmaster would invariably pronounce a prayer over us to start the day. I have to admit that I was a pretty phenomenal boy soprano. Both my parents sang and came from families where everyone was always singing. My dad often sang instructions to himself or to us. I kid you not. It was like living in a musical. Not too far off from the Sound of Music, except we did not need to run to the mountains. Our family gathered for worship every day and we sang from the same hymnal that we used at Church. I heard those same songs at school, along with classic Celtic ones such as “Lord of the Dance” that still make me happy whenever I hear them. There was a continual reminder of God all the time. My parents nearly always let us choose the hymns. (If they chose, it was always one with 5,000 verses that involved marching and a dictionary.) They wanted family worship to work for the kids. This love for singing has never gone away for me. When I was at Newbold College, I joined the choir first as a community member and later as a student. I have many years of great memories of incredible songs and stories.
My voice eventually broke and I went from boy soprano to second bass. When my voice changed, my physical location in the choir also shifted. It also meant that I could join a different choir. I had different harmonies to learn and others to forget. It meant that I had new friends to make. But all the time, no matter where I sat, I belonged to the family and I was in harmony with them. I was accepted.
I noticed that change did not come easily for some. In nearly every choir there was at least one prima donna vocalist who felt the entire choir was a backing group to their individual talent; in fact; a humming backing group would have been preferred.
I love the metaphor of the choir. It really emphasizes the idea that lots of different people are needed to create harmony and beauty. When we have our focus on something greater—not the song itself, not our part, not our voice, not our position, but serving those who listen—we are drawn into a harmony that becomes more than the music alone can express. There is a natural joy that supersedes everything as it becomes our lives.
Recalibrate: Do you belong to a “choir” today? Do you know what “voice and part” you have? Do you belong to something greater that lifts up Jesus?
Respond: Pray for Jesus to help you look out for others’ needs first.
Research: What three songs describe your faith currently? Who would listen to them?
Remember: “We, the ‘strong’ ones, should bear with the frailty of the ‘weak,’ and not please ourselves” (Romans 15:1, KNT).
Japhet De Oliveira is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, he served in the South England Conference for nine years—as a pastor and later as conference youth director—before moving to the United States in 2006. He is married to Becky and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jonah (14).
Paul explains that the Scriptures have a very specific purpose: to give us hope. Tell your child a story from when you were little and you needed hope. Our stories are the fabric of our present hope. The Bible gives us stories not only to give the context of history, not only to prophesy about the future, not only to guide and to direct us, but also to give us hope. How will you share with your child a love for the Bible?
Paul says, in Verse 4, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that we could have hope. That hope comes from the patience and encouragement that Scripture gives us” (Romans 15:4, ICB). God gave us the Bible to give us hope! Think of a Bible story that you really like. What story is it? Tell someone this story and tell them what about it shows you about hope. How did God turn the story into a good ending? Do you believe God will do the same for you?
When I was younger, I was afraid of the dark and had the hardest time falling asleep. Yes, I was that kid who would jump into bed for fear of what might be under it. I was that kid who slept with stuffed animals to protect me (no one wants to mess with Peter Rabbit). And I was also that kid who would barge into my parents’ room to wake up my father (he showed more mercy than my mother, so naturally he was my go-to parent), and beg him to come and help me go to sleep. The main reason I was afraid of sleeping was because I had a recurring dream that Jesus would come and I would be left behind while my entire family went up to heaven. I would wake up and, in fear, study my Bible because I thought that if I studied my Bible, prayed, and behaved better, I would go to heaven with my family. Do you sometimes feel this way? That you need to perform in a certain way in order for God to save you? Eventually, I began to realize that I am saved in Christ Jesus and that He is doing everything in His power to take me to heaven. I don’t know about you, but this gives me so much hope! When we come to believe that we are saved in Christ Jesus, we are filled with hope and peace. “May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!” (Romans 15:13, MSG). We can live lives of peace and and abundance of hope through the power of the Spirit! Throughout the day, claim this promise and ask God to help you to believe.