Sun, Apr 18, 2004
LESSONS FROM THE PAST! ROMANS 15:1-6
Romans 15:1-6 by Joe Guglielmo
Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
Series: Sunday Service
LESSONS FROM THE PAST!

ROMANS 15:1-6

 

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Romans chapter 15 as we look at what the Scriptures are there for, what they can do in our lives.  Paul is finishing up a section dealing with application, applying the things of God to our lives, which began in Romans chapter 12 and continues on through Romans 15:13. As we have been studying these chapters, what is the key to application, the key to applying the things of God to our lives?  Hopefully you all remember, for it is what Paul said as he opened up this section back in Romans chapter 12 and what I have been saying often over the past several weeks, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:1-2.

            You see, until you surrender your life to God, you will never be able to walk as He desires, you will not be able to apply these things to your life, you will not be able to have the love that God wants you to have, that AGAPE love, unconditional love!  Thus, the key is to place your life on the altar of sacrifice as a living sacrifice unto God so God can use you for His glory and transform you into His image instead of being conformed into the image of this world.

            Now as we read through the Scriptures we will find good news and bad news as people learn lessons of faith the easy way, by trusting God or the hard way by not trusting God.  Now before we get to our text this morning, let’s look at some examples of good news and bad news to show you what I mean.

Good News: - You baptized seven people today in the river.

Bad News: - You lost two of them in the swift current.

Good News: - The Women’s guild voted to send you a get-well card.

Bad News: - The vote passed by 31-30.

Good News: - The elder Board accepted your job description the way you wrote it.

Bad News: - They were so inspired by it, they also formed a search committee to find somebody capable of filling the position.

Good News: - You finally found a choir director who approaches things exactly the same way you do.

Bad News: - The choir mutinied.

Good News: - Mrs. Jones is wild about your sermons.

Bad News: - Mrs. Jones is also wild about the “Gong Show,” “Beavis and Butthead” and the “Texas Chain Saw Massacre.”

Good News: - Your women’s softball team finally won a game.

Bad News: - They beat your men’s softball team.

Good News: - The trustee’s finally voted to add more church parking.

Bad News: - They are going to blacktop the front lawn of your parsonage.

Good News: - Church attendance rose dramatically the last three weeks.

Bad News: - You were on vacation.

Good News: - Your deacons want to send you to the Holy Land.

Bad News: - They are stalling until the next war.

Good News: - Your biggest critic just left your church.

Bad News: - He has been appointed the Head Bishop of your denomination.

            You see, there is good news and bad news, and we can learn from each, there are lessons to grow by.  With that said, let’s begin reading in Romans chapter 15, starting in verse 1 and see what the Lord has for us this morning.

ROMANS 15:1-6

 

            Paul, continuing to speak on applying the things of God to our lives is saying that those that are strong in the faith, have liberty in Christ, should look out for, build up those that are weak in the faith, those that are bound by legalism.  We should have the mindset of building people up in the faith and/or bringing them to the faith, looking to Jesus as our example.

            The idea here is that when you reach out to people in the love of Christ, they might strike back at you, for they struck out at Jesus!  Now this can be tough, it is hard to love those who come against you, and yet, that is what we are called to do.  I think Amy Carmichael gives to us the correct perspective of why we are to love.  She tells us:

            IF I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ and what hast thou that thou has not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

            IF I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

            IF I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

- Amy Carmichael, If

I think we do know Calvary’s love, what Christ has done for each of us, the problem comes as difficult situations arise in our lives or someone rubs us the wrong way and we lose that perspective because we are so focused on self rather than the Lord, we are focused on self rather than others.  I think Paul understood that and that is why he tells us in Romans 15:4, For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Paul was speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, but truly, all Scripture is given to us by inspiration of God and is there for our learning, from Genesis through Revelation.  That wordlearning in the Greek is DIDASKALIA (did-as-kel-ee’-ah) and it speaks of “instruction (the function or the information)”.  In other words, Paul is telling us what is right and what is wrong, it is there for our learning that we might grow by, and it is there for teaching, that we might truly apply these things to our lives.

            Out of this we see that the Scriptures, as we learn them and apply them to our lives teach us patience and give to us comfort with the end result being hope!  Thus, as we look at the men and women of the Bible, as we study the lessons they went through we are going to grow in the Lord if we apply them to our lives!

            A great and sad book to study showing good news and bad news is the book of Judges. What Israel went through not only speaks of our nation today, but to us as individuals as we go through cyclical patterns or relationships with the Lord when we become governed by self instead of governed by God!

            You will see when you read through this book, and if you have been reading through the Bible with us in a year you have already read through this book, you will see a cyclical pattern that the nation falls into.  They start out in a time of rest and prosperity that causes them to turn from the Lord and fall into idolatry.  Once into idolatry the Lord brings judgment upon them and they fall into the hands of their enemies who then oppress them for a number of years.

            As they are oppressed, over time, they begin to cry out to the Lord, they begin to repent of their sins, and God delivers them by raising up a Judge like Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar and-so-on, 12 Judges (11 men and 1 woman), which leads them into a time of peace and prosperity. Then, once the Judge dies, they fall back into idolatry and the cycle begins all over again.

            How could this happen? How could they fall into idolatry when they were so blessed by God?  Just like we can!  In Judges 21:25 we see the answer, In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.  You see, as they turned their backs on God, they had no one to lead them, thus, they did whatever they wanted, whatever they felt was right to do in their own heart, which was wicked, instead of what God wanted them to do.

            What a powerful lesson for us to learn from, that God needs to remain on the throne of our hearts or we can find ourselves living like the people back in the book of Judges!

            One more example to show you how the Scriptures give to us lessons of faith, and obviously the entire Bible does that.  Moses led the children of Israel out from their bondage in Egypt to the boarder of the Promise Land.  It took them forty years to get there because of their failure to trust God, forty years wandering in the wilderness.  During that time Moses had an incident where he did not represent God correctly before the people, at the waters of Meribah in the wilderness of Zin and he only got to see the Promise Land from the top of a mountain, he was not able to enter it until we see Moses and Elijah with the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration, but that is another story.

            As we move into the book of Joshua we are told that Moses died, the servant of the Lord and now Joshua was to lead the children of Israel into the Promise Land.  Thus, as God commissions Joshua, there must have been a little fear, a little anxiety in Joshua’s heart over the responsibility he had before him.

            Thus, the Lord tells Joshua, encouraging him, teaching him patience, giving him comfort so that he might have hope, He says, Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.  Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:3-9.

            The Lord tells Joshua to read the Scriptures, the Words of God, what Moses had written down, make them a part of your life, apply them to your life for in doing so you will have good success, you will be prosperous.  Thus, for Joshua and for us, the gateway to victory is to study the Word of God and be obedient to what God said and if you do, there is no reason to fear because God is with you and you will be blessed!

            What was the response of Joshua to what the Lord told him?  We are told, Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, ‘Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, “Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.”’  Joshua 1:10-11.  He was obedient to what the Lord told him to do, he had faith and thus, he let the people know the plan of God because he trusted God.

            Even at the end of his life, we see Joshua still serving the Lord no matter what anyone said or did to try to discourage him for his faith was in the Lord because he knew the Lord.  In Joshua 24:15 we are told by Joshua, And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

            Also, starting in verse 19 of Joshua chapter 24 we are told, But Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.  If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.’  And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the LORD!’  So Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.’  And they said, ‘We are witnesses!’  ‘Now therefore,’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.’  And the people said to Joshua, ‘The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!’ Joshua 24:19-24.

            Tragically, that was not the case for future generations; they did not learn the lessons for in Judges 2:6-10 we are told, And when Joshua had dismissed the people, the children of Israel went each to his own inheritance to possess the land.  So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.  Now Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died when he was one hundred and ten years old.  And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Heres, in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash.  When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.  Thus, the tragic story of Judges because the Lord was not on the throne of their hearts and they did as they pleased!

            When you read the Scriptures, look for those lessons the Lord is trying to show you, learn from them, apply them to your life!  With the remainder of our time this morning I would like to look at three areas that arise or are born out of lesson learning: patience, comfort which then gives to us hope!

1.  THE PATIENCE OF THE SCRIPTURES

            As you read through the Scriptures you will see that God is not in a hurry, He has a plan, He has a purpose and He is patient.  On the other hand, we are not!  The Greek word that Paul uses forpatience is HUPOMONE (hoop-om-on-ay’) and it speaks of cheerful endurance, cheerful consistency, hanging in there, not giving up.

            As you read the Scriptures, as you look at the examples of the men and women of faith, you are learning that God is in control and when you truly believe that, you can be patient, waiting upon Him to accomplish what needs to be done instead of being anxious or trying to do it on your own, having your own plans, your own agenda instead of doing His perfect will. One brings peace and the other anxiety and fear!

            In Isaiah 40:31 we are told, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.  Why does waiting on the Lord renew our strength?  Because we are not using up our energy running to and fro to solve the problem but we are waiting upon God, trusting in the Lord!  It is as we do wait on the Lord that we can soar like eagles, we can run with endurance the course that God has for us, we can walk with Him daily and not faint or lose our perspective of who He is and what He is doing.

            And folks, this is a life-long process, don’t give up, persevere, as this story illustrates for us:

            A student once asked the president of his school if there was a course he could take that was shorter than the one prescribed.  “Oh yes,” replied the president, “but it depends on what you want to be.  When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, it only takes six months.”

- Miles J. Stanford, Principles of Spiritual Growth

Folks, like it or not, God is building patience in us.  We can, of course, fight against Him, or we can submit to Him.  James tells us My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  James 1:2-4.  Count these things joy knowing that God is working in you to produce patience, the same Greek word that Paul used in Romans 15:4.  The Scriptures along with our life situations by the power of God is working in us a cheerful endurance, patience!

2.  THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT

            The Bible tells us that God is the God of all comfort.  The Greek word that Paul uses forcomfort is PARAKLESIS (par-ak’-lay-sis), which speaks of coming to ones aide, consolation, support. As we read the Scriptures they bring to our lives comfort as we see God’s promises to us, that He is faithful and is able to bring to pass what He has promised us!

            David, in Psalm 119:49-52 said, Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.  The proud have me in great derision, Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.  I remembered Your judgments of old, O LORD, And have comforted myself.  The Living Bible puts these verses this way, Never forget your promises to me your servant, for they are my only hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me! Proud men hold me in contempt for obedience to God, but I stand unmoved.  From my earliest youth I have tried to obey you; your Word has been my comfort.  And The Amplified Bible says, Remember [fervently] the word and promise to Your servant, in which You have caused me to hope.  This is my comfort and consolation in my affliction: that Your word has revived me and given me life. [Rom 15:4.] The proud have had me greatly in derision, yet have I not declined in my interest in or turned aside from Your law.  When I have [earnestly] recalled Your ordinances from of old, O Lord, I have taken comfort.

            God has given to us comfort through His Word and He is the God of all comfort, not “most” comfort or “some” comfort!  Read through the Psalms and see how often the Psalms start out with the Psalmist in despair but as he spends time with God, by the time the Psalm is finished, the Psalmist has received the comfort of God from the Words of God. As we spend time with God, spend time in His Word, He will give us the comfort we need as He comes alongside of us and carries us through these times, He is the God of all comfort!

3.  HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT

            As we learn to be patient knowing that God is in control, as we receive His comfort as we go through difficult times, we can have hope in what God has promised us, He will bring it to pass!  God’s hope never disappoints us because it is perfect! The Greek word that Paul uses for “hope” is ELPIS (el-pece’) which speaks of an anticipated, an expectation, a confidence!  The idea that Paul is speaking of is that we need to keep on having hope, don’t give up!

            A great example of this is given to us in Titus 2:13, and there are many, many other promises of God that we can look at, but here Paul tells us, Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  You see, we have hope, expectation, confidence that the Lord is going to return because the Scriptures clearly tell us that and we can wait patiently, we can have comfort because He is coming back!

            Let’s face it, hope is vital for every one of us as this story illustrates for us, for without hope, we would just give up!  We are told:

            The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city’s hospitals. One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child. She took the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher.  “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”

            The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon.  No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain.  Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she left she felt she hadn’t accomplished much.

            But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?”  The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize.  “No, no,” said the nurse.  “You don’t know what I mean.  We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed.  He’s fighting back, responding to treatment.  It’s as though he’s decided to live.”

            Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived.  Everything changed when he came to a simple realization. He expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”

- Bits & Pieces, July 1991

            God desires to give to us hope as we read His Word, as we learn to trust in Him, and as we do we will have that hope!  What a glorious promise we have from God, hope in a world that is hopeless!

            Folks, as we learn patience, as we obtain comfort from God He gives to us hope and all of this is done through the Scriptures as we read them and apply them to our lives.  And as we do, as Paul moves on, he tells us Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 15:5-6.

            You see, out of what God is doing in us, it is God who is then glorified, He gets the credit, the glory, not us and thus, others will see God in us.  Do you realize that there are more than four Gospels?  Before you stone me, listen carefully.  Each of us is a testimony of the living God and we may be the only Gospel that people will read, thus, what are they reading in us about our God? You see, our lives should not be stagnant but grow in the Lord as Peter tells us, Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.  I Peter 2:1-3.  We have tasted and we have seen that the Lord is good and thus, may we apply the Word of God to our lives and grow in Him.

            There are many lessons in the Bible, good news and bad news, may we learn from them, these lessons and apply them to our lives that we may grow in the Lord, learning patience, receiving comfort and having hope that all comes from the Word of God and His Spirit working in us.

            Some of you may remember that song, it goes back a few years, “I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.”  There are many verses to that song but some of them are, “I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart.”  And “I’ve got the wonderful love of my blessed Redeemer down in my heart.” And “I’ve got the happy hope that heckles heathens down in my heart.”  You see, the hope we have when we are reproached, that joy we have down in our heart will show that God is real to us, that we believe in His promises to us!  Let me leave you with these words we have been studying this morning for you to meditate upon here in Romans 15:4, For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.  Or as The Amplified Bible puts it,For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.  May we not lose sight of those promises to us, learning patience, receiving comfort and having hope in the Lord through His Word!