I shall come to you. Romans 15:24
When we look at our circumstances in the right way, we can clearly see the hand of God as He guides His children.
At the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul laid out his plans. He intended to launch a fourth missionary journey and press further than ever—all the way to Spain. He told the Romans he would visit them on the way. But things didn’t work out as Paul planned. Arriving in Jerusalem, Paul was arrested, and he occupied a cell in Caesarea for two years. When he finally arrived in Rome, it wasn’t as a missionary headed to Spain, but as a prisoner headed to trial (see Acts 28). Yet the Lord was in it all.
Just like Paul, we should be planning for the future and doing the best we can to wisely manage the days to come. But God is still the Lord of the circumstances, and when things don’t go as we had hoped or planned, it’s our responsibility to say, “Well, dear Lord, do as You will.”
That is CLEARLY the best attitude to take in any situation.
God’s answers to life’s questions are not just proven by the process of abstract reasoning; they are also sustained by the rigors of experience. Ravi Zacharias
45 Romans 15-16 – Pastor Chuck Smith – C2000 Series
Rather, [Jesus] made himself nothing. Philippians 2:7
I stumbled upon footage from a British newsreel crew who filmed six-year-old Flannery O’Connor on her family farm in 1932. Flannery, who would go on to become an acclaimed US writer, caught the crew’s curiosity because she’d taught a chicken to walk backward. Apart from the novelty of the feat, I thought this glimpse of history was a perfect metaphor. Flannery, due to both her literary sensibilities and her spiritual convictions, spent her thirty-nine years definitely walking backward—thinking and writing in a counter-cultural way. Publishers and readers were entirely baffled by how her biblical themes ran counter to the religious views they expected.
A life that runs counter to the norm is inevitable for those who would truly imitate Jesus. Philippians tells us that Jesus, though His “very nature” was God, didn’t move in the predictable ways we would expect (2:6). He didn’t use His power “to his own advantage,” but “rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (vv. 6–7). Christ, the Lord of creation, surrendered to death for the sake of love. He didn’t seize prestige but embraced humility. He didn’t grab power but relinquished control. Jesus, in essence, walked backward—counter to the power-driven ways of the world.
Scripture tells us to do the same (v. 5). Like Jesus, we serve rather than dominate. We move toward humility rather than prominence. We give rather than take. In Jesus’s power, we walk backward.
Reflect & Pray
How has Jesus demonstrated a way of walking backward in the world? Where is God calling you to live out Christ’s humble example?
The only way to healing and goodness, the only way to move forward, is to join Jesus in walking backward.
Almighty God formed you. He knows your talents and weaknesses, as well as every detail of your situation and potential results of any decision you might make.
Your Creator knows what is best for your life. His plan for you, which is motivated by wisdom and love, is executed with perfect timing. This last part can be hard for us to accept, especially when it involves waiting. But patience is often part of the plan.
Our human nature wants instant gratification, but in some seasons of life, God teaches us to trust Him and yield those longings. We demonstrate surrender and humility before Him when we submit to His timetable.
Of course, there is another option. God gave us the free will to choose His plan or step away from it. When life does not follow our desired path, we can try to make things happen in our own power. Though this option is tempting at uncomfortable times, it often leads to disappointment and difficulty, and we end up missing God’s best.
Scripture contains rich promises that we can claim throughout life—and God always keeps His Word. As His followers, we are to believe with faith, anticipate with hope, and wait quietly with patience (Rom. 12:12). In the meantime, we listen and obey.
Embrace whatever season God has you in right now. If it’s a time of waiting, choose patience, trusting that His plan for you is beautiful. Walking in His will requires us to remain sensitive to His voice. When we readily listen to our loving Father, He protects us from making mistakes.
“She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” (Proverbs 4:9)
There are five specific “crowns” mentioned in the New Testament as rewards for faithful service, presumably to be rewarded by Christ at His judgment seat (1 Corinthians 3:14). These are the “incorruptible” crown (1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Corinthians 5:10); the “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8); the “crown of rejoicing” (1 Thessalonians 2:19); “the crown of life” (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10); and lastly the “crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).
Although the crown of glory is mentioned only once in the New Testament, the phrase occurs four times in the Old Testament, each providing special insight into its character and scope. The first is Proverbs 4:9: “[Wisdom] shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.” The other three are, in order, as follows:
- “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).
- “In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people” (Isaiah 28:5).
- “Thou [probably a reference to the new Jerusalem] shalt also be a crown of glory in the land of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God” (Isaiah 62:3).
The one New Testament reference, in 1 Peter 5:4, is a wonderful promise to the faithful shepherds of each “little flock” (Luke 12:32) of believers: “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”
We do not know exactly what these crowns will be composed of, but when we see the Lord we shall lay each of them before His throne (Revelation 4:10). HMM
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Here is what grieves me, and I believe this also grieves the Holy Spirit: My hearers rise to this call emotionally, but they will not confirm it by a corresponding change in their way of life. Their goodness is like the morning clouds—by 9 o’clock the sun has burnt off the fog. This is what happens to many people’s good intentions. They rise emotionally to an urgent message that we become a New Testament church, that we become a model church, that we have the order of the New Testament and the power of the Holy Spirit in order that we might worship, work and witness. Emotionally they rise to it, but they will not confirm their emotions by corresponding changes in their way of life.
They want to be blessed by God, but they want God to bless them on their terms. They look pensively to God for victory, but they will not bring their giving into line. They will not practice family prayer, rushing off without it. They will not take time for secret prayer and will not forgive those who have wronged them. They will not seek to be reconciled to those with whom they have quarreled. They will not pick up their crosses and say, “Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave, and follow Thee.” RRR146-147
Lord, may my desire for You rise above emotions. I do want to be blessed of You, both personally and in my ministry. I commit myself this morning to a willingness to take my cross and follow You—and to take the necessary action to come on Your terms. Amen.
I will abide in Thy tabernacle for ever I will trust in the covert of Thy wings.—Psalm 61:4.
I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel.—Psalm 16:7.
Would it not be possible for every man to double his intellectual force by keeping much in the company of Infinite Wisdom?
E. P. Tenney.
I cannot help the thought which grows steadily upon me, that the better part of prayer is not the asking, but the kneeling where we can ask, the resting there, the staying there, drawing out the willing moments in heavenly communion with God, within the closet, with the night changed into the brightness of the day by the light of Him who all the night was in prayer to God. Just to be there, at leisure from ourselves, at leisure from the world, with our souls at liberty, with our spirit feeling its kinship to the Divine Spirit, with our life finding itself in the life of God,—this is prayer, Would it be possible that one could be thus with God, listening to Him, speaking to Him, reposing upon His love, and not come out with a shining face, a gladdened heart, an intent more constant and more strong to give to the waiting world which so sadly needs it what has been taken from the heart of God?
“It shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.” Hosea 1:10
Sovereign grace can make strangers into sons, and the Lord here declares His purpose to deal thus with rebels, and make them know what He has done. Beloved reader, the Lord has done this in my case; has He done the like for you? Then let us join hands and hearts in praising His adorable name.
Some of us were so decidedly ungodly that the Lord’s Word most truly said to our conscience and heart, “Ye are not my people.” In the house of God, and in our own homes, when we read the Bible, this was the voice of God’s Spirit in our soul, “Ye are not my people.” Truly a sad condemning voice it was. But now, in the same places, from the same ministry and Scripture, we hear a voice, which saith, “Ye are the sons of the living God.” Can we be grateful enough for this? Is it not wonderful? Does it not give us hope for others? Who is beyond the reach of almighty grace? How can we despair of any, since the Lord has wrought so marvelous a change in us?
He who has kept this one great promise will keep every other; wherefore, let us go forward with songs of adoration and confidence.