Text: Romans 15:19b-22
Theme: Going where Christ’s name had never been preached was Paul’s strategy and mission. Being alone at times was a necessary side effect.
Key verses: “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. 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.’ In fact, my visit to you has been delayed so long because I have been preaching in these places.”
What God said to me: Dwayne, your heart and mind are in a funk right now. Since you returned a week ago from Africa, you have struggled with discouragement and loneliness in ministry and a general lack of motivation. That’s to be expected to a degree, considering your full and exciting schedule during the tour. But you are not getting better; this morning in fact you are worse. Can you see how the enemy is working on you to deceive and distract you? More importantly, can you see how you are allowing his demons to badger and sideline you? You are believing their lies. That’s on you. That’s your fault. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. You have nothing to feel that way about. Count your many blessings. Focus on what you have, rather than on what you don’t have. And consider my servant, Paul. His ambition was to share my Good News where it had never been preached. Think about that. That meant he had to necessarily go into unfamiliar and uncharted places–places he had literally never been. Thus, he had to often go where he knew no one, no one at all. He had to start friendships from scratch. That’s not so hard to do when one is younger. Traveling to new places and meeting new people can be exhilarating when you’re young. But Paul did this on up into his sixties. Even his traveling companions were temporary. They didn’t go on every trip with him. He had no one he could always count on to be with him except me. Often when Paul went to new places he was met with strong opposition, even suffering physical harm at times. Paul’s greatest desire wasn’t to please himself or make himself safe and comfortable. His greatest desire and determination was to make me known among the heathen. Die today to yourself, Dwayne. Be thankful and worship me in spirit and in truth. Follow me wherever I lead you. That is your job. I will always give you what you need. Trust in me alone.
What I said to God: Holy Lord, I thank and praise You for being my Lord and my God and my Savior and Friend. How could I ever doubt your love or despise Your goodness and mercy on my life? I have no one in heaven or earth that compares to You. I am grateful for my wife and my family. Help me prioritize them when I’m at home. Thank You for their love and commitment to me and to what You’ve called us to do together. But help me not to depend even on their love and companionship to take the place of my walk with You and my deep need for You. I choose to be thankful today. You have blessed me far beyond what I could ever hope or imagine. You love me with an everlasting love. I choose to follow You both today and for the rest of my days on this earth. I look forward to seeing You face to face one day and worshiping You for eternity. Help me not take my eye off the ball. Rather, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.