Friday, February 11, 2011

I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me

Rom. 15:13-221 NLT
    13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
   14 I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. 15 Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. For by God’s grace, 16 I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit. 17 So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. 18 Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them. 19 They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum. 
   20 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. 21 I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says, “Those who have never been told about him will see, and those who have never heard of him will understand.”

Paul, the Apostle was responsible for a vast portion of what we call the New Testament. Also, he and close friends were the ones spreading the good news about Christ in places were other believers tended not to travel. Paul was called to this, but he was not alone. Others were as well but did not follow through nearly as much. We have the same issues today. Some women and men are faithfully teaching the Gospel wherever they go, sharing faith, and listening for the Holy Spirit to guide them to new fields where there are hearts made ready by God to hear the truth of eternal life.

Most believers quietly go to work, come home, go to work, come home, attend a worship service on Sunday, perhaps a Bible study on occasion, but are they sold out like Paul was to carry good news wherever they go. Notice in vs 13-14 he writes people he did not know and had never met but writes as an intimate friend. He encourages them to realize their full state of goodness received by faith in Christ. He reminds them of their need to teach each other. I have to stop and wonder if I am willing to teach my brothers and sisters who might wish me to do so. How?  By God's Grace (vs 15), that's how. Paul took no credit for anything he did-- and he did quit a lot!  He credited God's grace and power to make it all happen. He would tell you that all he did was to follow as obediently as he possibly could. He mentioned his enthusiasm for the positive results his ministry was having (vs 17) but follows with the recognition that it was all cause by God and none at all by Paul (vs 18).

There are preachers with well known names who gravitate to large congregations paying high salaries. There are church members who are powerful business persons, famous educators, or skilled organizational leaders who allow themselves to gravitate to those same large churches with big budgets and lots of activity going on. All the activity is usually by a paid staff ministry person and done TO the membership rather than with or through them. Paul would not want to come to those churches. Verse 20 reveals his hearts desire-- to go where no one had preached or ever heard of the name of Christ and be one to bring them their first taste of the world's greatest good news. There were-- and are-- many who just love to come along and build on what another has done and to be known for doing it more successfully than the past person. But Paul wanted to be the ground-breaker, the soil preparer, the seed planter.

How about you? How about me? What do we want in regard to where we do "ministry?" Are we willing to where the ground is hard and to rely upon the power of God to prepare the way? Are we willing to be tent-maker ministers, working by day to earn our living and by day and night to share the good news? Are we willing to turn off our TVs, put away our skis and other toys, set aside our list of home projects and ask God where we should turn to share good news? It need not be Africa or South America, you understand. It just might be right there on your block? It might be at your nearest Starbucks or other meeting place?  It might be in a small church of 50 struggling believers waiting for someone to come and cast a vision for them to become empowered by Christ.

I pray you are as challenged by this passage as I am today.

Your servant in Christ's service

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