Summary: This sermon on the second half of Romans chapter 15 gives us insight into how to make plans to serve the Lord, and how to carry them out with prayer, like the apostle Paul did.
A. Once there was a young woman who brought her fiancé home to meet her parents.
1. After dinner, her mother told her father to find out more about the young man, so the father invited the fiancé to his study for a talk.
2. “So what are your plans?” the father asked the young man.
a. “I’m going to be a biblical scholar,” the young man replied.
3. “A Biblical scholar. Hmmm,” the father said, “Admirable, but how will you buy my daughter a beautiful wedding ring, such as she deserves?” asked the father.
a. “I will concentrate on my studies,” the young man replied, “and God will provide for us.”
4. “And what will you do to provide a nice house for my daughter to live in?” asked the Father.
a. “I will study,” the young man replied, “and God will provide for us.”
5. “And children?” asked the father, “How will you support children?”
a. “Don’t worry, sir, God will provide,” replied the fiancé.
6. Later, the mother asked, “How did your conversation go, Honey? What did you learn?”
a. The father answered, “I learned that he has no job, and no plans, and he thinks I’m God!”
B. And what about you and me, do we have any plans for the future?
1. Maybe you’ve heard of or experienced this funny quote from Woody Allen: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”
2. It appears that Woody Allen borrowed that idea from an old Yiddish proverb that says: “We plan, God laughs.”
3. The truth of the matter about planning is that I believe that God wants us to make plans, but to always keep a loose grip on them, believing that God is ultimately in control.
4. We should adopt the attitude and practice that James suggested in his little letter of wisdom: Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (Jms. 4:15)
C. Today’s sermon from our series on Paul’s letter to the Romans, brings us to the end of chapter 15.
1. Paul’s letter to the Romans is his longest and most theologically complex letter.
2. So it should not surprise us to find that Paul’s closing of this letter is also the longest by far than in any of his other letters.
3. Today, as we work through Romans 15:14-33, we will see Paul discuss his travel plans.
4. Paul’s main purpose in this section is to help the Christians at Rome to understand why Paul has not yet visited them.
5. You might recall that back in chapter 1, Paul brought that up at the beginning of his letter.
a. In chapter 1, verse 11, Paul wrote: For I want very much to see you…
b. And in verse 13, Paul wrote: Now I don’t want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I often planned to come to you (but was prevented until now)...
c. Finally, in vs. 15: So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
6. Now, as Paul concludes his letter, he assures them that a visit to them is in his future plans.
7. As we work through today’s section, I want to encourage us to be on the lookout for important spiritual principles that can apply to our plans for living and serving the Lord.
8. These verses contain more than one man’s two-thousand-year-old personal travel plans, they also include a useful glimpse into the thinking and practices of the Apostle Paul as he lives and serves the Lord.
D. Paul begins this section, saying: 14 My brothers and sisters, I myself am convinced about you that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. (15:14)
1. We should notice and should be impressed by Paul’s tact and diplomacy in writing to a church he has neither planted nor visited.
2. Back in chapter 1, verse 12, he had suggested that if he visited them, they would be: mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
3. Here in chapter 15, verse 14, we see him compliment the Roman Christians on being “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.”
4. Paul wants them to know that he knows that he is not writing to a novice community or to a deeply sinful one (like the Corinthians), but to one who knows and practices the faith.
5. Paul often had to confront people about their failures and struggles, which Paul did to some degree in Romans, but he almost always bathed it in some sincere commendation.
6. Paul didn’t just say something nice for the sake of saying something nice, he didn’t exercise empty flattery, rather he tried to be observant of people’s strengths as well as their weaknesses, and tried to point out both.