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 New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I have to admit to a soft spot for romantic comedies, especially those with a little bit of tension. I might have to also admit that I own The Proposal starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds as a mismatched boss and underling who initially hate each other and then fall in love. There are so many moments in that story where I just want them to recognize (more quickly!) that they are clearly made for each other. When they finally do, there is a great sense of release and happiness for everyone (me!) who may or may not be crying with joy.
When you know, you just know.
How do you really know? I have had so many couples ask me that question before they get married or when they have to make a major decision together. How do you really know? Getting to the place where you feel settled on a decision is never easy. We have lots of different techniques for how to decide. I think, however, that every question, no matter the area, should always be grounded in Kingdom of God values.
When you think about your career, which will be affected by your educational choices and family responsibilities, you have to ask yourself, “What are the Kingdom of God values that would help me have peace with my choice?” Can you live out the Sermon on the Mount values in that career? You might be amazed how much ministry you are already doing.
When you think about the person you want to marry and be with for all the days of your life, you need to remind yourself of the Kingdom of God values that tell us we were created for reconciliation, for community, and for life. You might be surprised how in line you already are with the mission of God in your marriage.
When you think about your Church and how you can support the local mission, you need to remind yourself of Kingdom of God values. You return to the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7 and reread it for a fresh revelation about Jesus. You remind yourself that Jesus said the sun shines on the good and the bad (Matthew 5:45). The love of God is not filtered. It is abundant and generous. Therefore, we are to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48 ). This is discussed more fully in Luke’s Gospel account: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
To be merciful is to have compassion. It is to have love—that is what it is to be perfect. Perfection is loving with an abundant and generous heart. You might be surprised that the ministry in which you volunteer draws you into a space where you can love others more abundantly and generously.
Maybe that is why we enjoy things better when we are aligned with the mission of God.
Recalibrate: Paul seems incredibly resolute about his call to preach to the Gentiles. How do we know if our mission is in line with what Jesus has called us to do?
Respond: Share a prayer of thanks for God’s blessings in your life.
Research: Investigate Galatians 1 and Paul’s identification of his call within that passage.
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).
How do we have humility in giving God all the glory for our accomplishments? Paul was able to give God the glory because he knew what it was like to live both against Jesus and with Jesus. He was able to give all the glory to God because he knew that without his Road to Damascus experience he would not have been able to spread the Gospel like he did. What is one of your child’s recent accomplishments? Talking? Walking? Playing a game? Making artwork? Think about that accomplishment and what it would look like without God. Thank God for blessing your child and giving them a life to live with Him.
What are some things you know about Paul? Do you think Paul did a lot of work spreading the good news about Jesus? Oh yeah! Paul spent much of his time, energy, and words sharing about God’s love. In this chapter of Romans (Chapter 15), Paul says it’s not something he can brag about, but instead all this incredible stuff that he’s done has been because Jesus has been working through him! Paul wrote an incredible letter to the Romans, but he didn’t want to take credit for it. He knew God deserved the glory. Make a craft today or find a craft you did in the past that you’re very proud of. Remember that God gave you the talent to make that! Praise God today for working though you.
When the offering plate comes around in little kids' Bible study classes, many children will insert play money or gum wrappers. However, if the child is lucky, they will slip a crisp five dollar bill from their parents into the offering plate. This was always the case for my sister and me. Each Sabbath, my mom would give us each $5 to put in the offering plate. Whenever I gave money, I could feel the joy beaming from my Sabbath School teacher and I had a sense of pride because there were very few kids who brought money to class. But here’s the thing, the money was not mine! I was taking pride in something that was only mine for approximately 20 minutes and that I hadn’t earned on my own. One of the things about Paul is that, unlike me, he had a million reasons to boast about himself. He escaped prison, cast out demons, preached thousands of times, and even brought someone back from the dead. Yet he still gave God the honor and glory for all of these things. If I had accomplished such deeds, I would have told everyone. I would post them on Facebook, casually drop them into conversation (“What did I do this weekend? Oh nothing big, just casually brought someone back from the dead. You know, the usual . . .”). Instead, Paul says, “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done” (Romans 15:17, 18, NIV). Paul constantly gave thanks to God and realized that it was only by God’s grace that he had come so far. He knew that life and the ability to do ministry were gifts from God and he didn’t want to ever forget that. Even though he had been stoned, ridiculed, and shipwrecked, he still gave God praise. What an incredible example of humility! Imagine what our lives would look like if we took the time to give thanks for all that God has given us.