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Romans 15:7

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Good morning! If you’d like to, feel free to make your way over to . We’ll have the verses up on the screens as well for your convenience.
I’m glad you all could be here this morning. Anybody have plans for tomorrow - Labor Day? I have plans - to be lazy and rest! You see, over the past month, we’ve been on a bit of a dirty journey. Dirty - because our washing machine began having problems. Some of you may have followed our journey on Facebook. It started when I noticed the sound of something comparable to a jet engine coming from down the hall. Turns out it was our washer. I immediately suspected there was an issue with the bearings. But, being somewhat busy, I decided I was going to be smart and resist the temptation to fix it myself. Having taken apart washing machines before, I knew there’d be a ton of screws, springs, hoses, and wires to disconnect and set aside, and that it would take a serious commitment to take this machine apart - in a fashion that would allow me to get it put back together! So, we called Samsung, and Samsung sent out a technician. This first technician decided they couldn’t get the necessary parts, waived their service call fee and went on their merry way.
We called Samsung and they sent another technician. This technician quickly diagnosed the issue and gave us a quote. We mulled it over and decided to go ahead and pay for the repairs. So, another team of repairmen came out and began disassembling our washer. After a couple of hours, they asked if I had a sledgehammer they could borrow. My first thought was maybe they’d had enough of this machine and were ready to send it to the grave. But, they were just trying to break the main shaft free from the bearings. After much time, they decided it couldn’t be done and we’d have to get a whole new tub. This basically drove the cost of the repair into the zone of nearly the cost of a brand new machine. So… we had them abort and put everything back together.
After chewing on it, we finally came to the decision that I’d attempt the repair. I found a store on the web that sold the bearing kit (Samsung does not sell just the bearings & seals - instead you have to buy a whole new assembly, which is rather expensive). I ordered the parts, and began taking the machine apart. When I got to separating the main shaft from the bearings, I was happy to discover a technique the shop that sold me the bearings told me about worked beautifully, and so it only took a couple of minutes to get the shaft and bearings separated.
At this point, I’ve probably spent a total of a couple of hours spread out through a good half a day, and decided to take a break and pick up the next day.
The next day, I began reassembling everything, a little nervous that there seem to be more screws than I know what to do with. But, as I get closer and closer to the end, all the screws are getting used up and fitting correctly, so I’m getting more and more excited! I finally get everything put back together, and put the washer back in place. Now for the moment of truth, I plug in the machine, put it into test mode, and immediately I get an error code. Great. Now what? I research the error code, start opening up various panels and making sure all the wiring is correct, and I can’t seem to figure out what is wrong. At this point, I’m getting discouraged and feeling like I’m about to throw away a washing machine with brand new bearings. But finally, much to our delight, I discovered I attached a vibration sensor upside down, and I guess the washing machine brain didn’t really appreciate that. With the issue corrected, the machine whirs and hums to life, and we washed more loads of laundry than I could keep track of, and boy am I both happy and tired!
So, all that to say, I’m going to relax tomorrow! And I don’t plan on fixing anything - except maybe a nice tall glass of lemonade!
These past few weeks, we’ve been on a journey - learning how we are to do life together in unity. Finding harmony in the midst of our many differences. Today, we’ll come to the close of Paul’s strong argument and transition to the final movement of this masterpiece of a symphony.
Let’s invite the Lord to come.
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Romans 15:7–13 NLT
7 Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. 8 Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. 9 He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote: “For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing praises to your name.” 10 And in another place it is written, “Rejoice with his people, you Gentiles.” 11 And yet again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles. Praise him, all you people of the earth.” 12 And in another place Isaiah said, “The heir to David’s throne will come, and he will rule over the Gentiles. They will place their hope on him.” 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.
Accept each other. It almost gives us the wrong idea. What Paul is saying here - the word accept - is translated from the Greek work proslambano, which doesn’t mean to just - perhaps begrudgingly - put up with one another. No - it actually means to welcome - like when you welcome someone into your home. It means to treat them as family - and I don’t mean the kind of dysfunctional family we all know about that doesn’t get along. It means to welcome others - with all their flaws and sins - into fellowship with us and to love and treat them as family. It’s just as Christ has accepted us. And can I let you in on a secret? We all have flaws and sins. When we accept one another as Christ has accepted us - flaws, sins, and all - we give glory to God.
Paul then gives some examples from Old Testament scripture - from Psalms, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah - that emphasize God’s promise that Gentiles are now fully members of God’s people. It turns out that this was always God’s plan! God never intended to be exclusive by making Israel a nation superior and distinguished against all others. This is a big mistake that many fell victim to believing, including Paul himself. The reality is that Israel was to be the vessel through which people of every nation would be called into one family.
Let me pause for a minute to address a tension that exists throughout Romans: Through Jesus, God is transforming individuals. He’s making us more like Him. He’s healing us. He’s cleansing us from all unrighteousness. He’s helping us to turn away from sin and to press in to being holy and consecrated - set apart for him. But he’s not only working on transforming us as individuals, he’s also forming us into a community. We can see a lot of that community focus in the preceding passages we’ve covered over the past weeks as well as what we’re reading today. I think it’s important that as we read through Romans that we are careful not to have an either or mindset - that Paul is either drawing our focus to individual transformation or community formation, but that we have a both and mindset, which means that our focus needs to be on both. As transformed individuals, we contribute to a healthier community. And as a healthier community, we encourage greater health in each individual. We are rescued (individual) and then reconciled (community). Make sense?
Something that is very close to Lorien’s and my heart is ministering to marriages and families. In our experience, it would be very easy to focus entirely on reconciliation. On what is causing conflict in the “community”. However, what we’ve found is that focusing on the relationship first rarely, if ever, produces lasting fruit. Why? Because we’re putting the cart before the horse. We’re attempting to sow into reconciliation with others before we’re reconciled to God. So, instead, what we do is help the couple or family members focus on their relationship with God. And that’s where we often find that there has been a struggle. I was doing good spending time in the Word, having a devotional time, spending time in prayer, connecting with God - and then things got busy at work… or the baby is keeping us up late at night… or I kind of fell out the rhythm… or… fill-in the blank. Helping others press into their relationship with God (vertical reconciliation) often addresses the relationship with each other (horizontal reconciliation). In an age of the quick-fix, we must be careful not to focus on only one without the other. Without a healthy relationship with God, we are not going to be healthy members of the church. And the church - it’s not a set of rules that we follow. It’s not a building. It’s not an hour and a half on Sunday morning. It’s a community. It’s a people. Jesus came not only to seek and save that which was lost; he came to build the church.
Finally, Paul invokes the power of the Holy Spirit - the same power that raised Jesus from the grave - to flow through the family of believers. You see, all that Paul has been teaching us about isn’t something that we can just - hey, great idea. Ok - I’ll do it. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to do everything that Paul is telling us, and we’re fooling ourselves if we think we can accomplish any of this to a significant degree without him.
There’s somewhat of a tension in Romans in that

This morning, I want to ask you these three questions:
Romans 15:14–24 NLT
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.” 22 In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places. 23 But now I have finished my work in these regions, and after all these long years of waiting, I am eager to visit you. 24 I am planning to go to Spain, and when I do, I will stop off in Rome. And after I have enjoyed your fellowship for a little while, you can provide for my journey.
How is your relationship with God?
How is your relationship with others?
In reflecting on what Paul’s journey must have been like, N.T. Wright says this:
Paul for Everyone, Romans Part Two: Chapters 6-16 (The New Testament for Everyone) Paul for Everyone, Romans Part Two: Chapters 6-16 (The New Testament for Everyone)

I mentioned earlier in this book how, when my family and I first moved to North America, we were struck again and again at the thought of what the pioneers had achieved in such very recent history. They had navigated uncharted rivers, climbed mountains not even named until that point, carved roads through dense forests, and taken whole wagon trains across seemingly unending plains, through steep passes, on and on for thousands of miles. At each point they had faced dangers they couldn’t foresee, tried to grow crops without knowing if the soil was right, endured extremes of heat and cold, and had to rely on their wits and their sheer brute strength to see them through. In that context, the very word ‘pioneer’ has a ring, an excitement, a sense of drama and courageous accomplishment.

Paul for Everyone, Romans Part Two: Chapters 6-16 (The New Testament for Everyone) Paul for Everyone, Romans Part Two: Chapters 6-16 (The New Testament for Everyone)

when my family and I first moved to North America, we were struck again and again at the thought of what the pioneers had achieved in such very recent history. They had navigated uncharted rivers, climbed mountains not even named until that point, carved roads through dense forests, and taken whole wagon trains across seemingly unending plains, through steep passes, on and on for thousands of miles. At each point they had faced dangers they couldn’t foresee, tried to grow crops without knowing if the soil was right, endured extremes of heat and cold, and had to rely on their wits and their sheer brute strength to see them through. In that context, the very word ‘pioneer’ has a ring, an excitement, a sense of drama and courageous accomplishment.

Is the Holy Spirit at work in your life?
Romans 15:25–33 NLT
25 But before I come, I must go to Jerusalem to take a gift to the believers there. 26 For you see, the believers in Macedonia and Achaia have eagerly taken up an offering for the poor among the believers in Jerusalem. 27 They were glad to do this because they feel they owe a real debt to them. Since the Gentiles received the spiritual blessings of the Good News from the believers in Jerusalem, they feel the least they can do in return is to help them financially. 28 As soon as I have delivered this money and completed this good deed of theirs, I will come to see you on my way to Spain. 29 And I am sure that when I come, Christ will richly bless our time together. 30 Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit. 31 Pray that I will be rescued from those in Judea who refuse to obey God. Pray also that the believers there will be willing to accept the donation I am taking to Jerusalem. 32 Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other. 33 And now may God, who gives us his peace, be with you all. Amen.
Let’s pray.
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