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 English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Michael F. Bird, in his commentary called Romans, shares this insight on the final verses of Romans 15.
Our ambition to serve God can lead us into all sorts of strange ventures, many of which don’t seem terribly important at the time, but can later reap wonderful harvests completely unknown to us. If we are open to the Spirit’s leading, many of the things that we think are insignificant can end up yielding major significance. A prayer prayed for someone, a phone call or an email to check up on a friend, a meal cooked for a grieving family, a Bible given to a teenager, or a cup of water given to a thirsty woman on a street corner. We never know what is going to come of the work we do along the way. We dedicate ourselves to service knowing that while our ambitions may not always come to fruition the way we hope they will, God’s plan to use us to achieve his purposes always succeeds. Remember that for all of Paul’s planning he never actually made it Spain, and yet: “One of the most important lessons in Romans 15 might be put thus: God allowed Paul to dream of Spain in order that he might write Romans.
At times, we need to be focused on such a hard goal so that we can simply achieve all the steps along the way. Recognizing that God is with us in each of those steps could be deeply significant.
I dream of the Church in the future, and this is overwhelming to me at times. I don’t even know if my dreams will be realized within my lifetime. I have never told anyone fully what I imagine it will be like since I don’t think that people are ready to be immersed in the Kingdom of God. Yet, I have this grounding, a deep rootedness, a brilliant dream and vision that cannot be quenched by the static around me. So in every conversation, every email, every text, every meal, every hour, every minute, and every time I draw breath, I believe it is because Jesus is calling me to find another way to lift up His name.
I am asking my faith community, my local tribe, to make a new model with me. One of our church check-in volunteers, Dennis Hansen, and I were discussing this last week. His ministry is not simply about the safety of our kids. It is a ministry of connection and remembrance. Recalling a kid’s name lets them know that they are loved and that they belong to a family that has faith in Jesus. It is a powerful ministry. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, we need to keep on creating a new model:
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Recalibrate: How do we shift the culture of the Church so that it rejoices in more diversity?
Respond: Claim the promise from Jesus that He will never leave you.
Research: Read one of the recommended commentaries on the book of Romans.
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 is desperate to be with the Romans, to be present in their lives. With today’s technology it is hard for many people to be present even if they are in the same room. For some it’s because of their cell phones; for others it might be a book, work, or something else on their minds. Be intentional about spending quality time with your child today. Do something they like to do. Go to the park, watch a kids’ show, make a craft. Whatever it is you’re doing with them, be fully engaged.
Paul tells the Romans in this letter that he wants to visit them. It is one thing to send words in a letter, but Paul wants to be able to hang out with the people in Rome. To talk to them in person. Do you have family who live far away? What are some of the differences when you send cards or talk on the phone from when you see them in person? Which do you like better? Paul wants us to know that it’s important to be with people. Spend time tonight with your family eating dinner, playing a board game, watching a movie, just being together!
It was a sunny Friday afternoon. My parents were going to go fly down to California for my aunt’s wedding, and I was enjoying a leisurely afternoon writing in a coffee shop. When I headed out to a gas station to fill my near-empty car, I realized that I had my phone, my credit card, but no keys. They were locked in my car. Immediately I panicked. How was I supposed to get home? How could I get my keys out of the car? “Why do I always make mistakes like this?” I thought. My parents were leaving for California in an hour and there was no way they could come and pick me up! But I still called my dad. The conversation went a bit like this: “Hey daddy! Umm, funny story . . . don’t get mad, but I locked myself out of my car and I was kind of wondering if it was in any way possible for you to bring the spare key?” Silence. Then, “OK, I’ll be there as soon as I can.” I did not expect that response! You see, for my dad to come meant that he would have to fight rush hour traffic on one of the busiest highways in the greater Seattle area and risk missing his flight to California. Yet he came. He arrived at the gas station and gave me the spare key. He was there for me even though it was at the most inconvenient time. This is what Paul spent his whole life doing: risking everything and loving people in the most inconvenient way. He would be stoned in one town, only to go to another and preach the same message. Paul ends Romans 15 by talking about all the travels that he is embarking on and all that he is doing to spread the Gospel message. Serving people was his utmost priority. After reading this I can’t help but think, “When was the last time I loved people even when it wasn’t convenient for me?” And so I ask, what are some ways that you can go out of your way to serve people? Pray for God to create in you a clean heart, one that loves deeply and serves as He serves.