We finished looking at Romans 15 last night, focussing on two main themes:
1) the point of preaching
2) what happens when God’s plans aren’t the same as our plans

Paul says he wrote boldly to the Romans to remind them of God’s truth (Rom 15:15). He is convinced that they are “full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.” (Rom 15:14) What is the point of us preaching the Word and teaching? Once people are saved, isn’t that the end of the story?

Preaching has many purposes. It builds us up in truth, washes us in the Word of God, transforms our thinking and guides our living. God’s Word is living and active, not just a factual book to study, but a life-giving book that shapes our whole lives. We need to progress from the milk of the Word (1 Pet 2:1-3) to solid food (Heb 5:11-14). There must be balance and depth to our preaching and teaching. Those who preach need to know that they are bringing God’s Word and study reverently and carefully. Those who listen need to have open hearts and be willing to receive God’s correction, discipline and encouragement. We all need food on a daily basis to survive and God’s Word has all the nutrients we need for healthy growth!

Rom 15:23-32 gives details of Paul’s plans to visit Rome. As Acts shows us, however, these plans did not work out in the way that Paul expected. He did indeed end up in Rome, but it was under armed guard. He spent years in prison. Acts 23:1-11 shows us the difficulties he faced, but he also had the encouragement directly from God that he would indeed go to Rome: “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23:11) We have to acknowledge God’s sovereignty in our lives, even when plans don’t work out the way we want them to. Even heartache, bereavement, loss and trial are worked into God’s plans and He works all things together for our good (Rom 8:28). We can’t see the full picture yet, but He has good plans for us, to give us hope and a future (Jer 29:11) and He is working all things out. We need to rest on what we know to be true of His character and trust in His refining power, even when things are not going our way, even when His ways are worked out differently from how we originally expected them to be.