Title:  Future Plans

Text:  Rom 15:14-33

Focus:  What we can learn from Paul's future plans as he lays them out in
Romans is what the nature of our focus should be.  Our three-fold focus should
involve our mission to save the loss, our devoted fellowship with each other, and
prayer, which is a reflection of our devotion to God.  

Function:  To motivate the hearers to evaluate their resolutions and plans for the
new year and ensure they are spiritually balanced.

Full-Text Version

1.  Always hectic around holidays
	a.  Can't even get milk without being mobbed by shoppers
	b.  But slows down at end of December
	c.  Mixture of peace and excitement
	d.  January comes, life goes back to normal
2.  Some see January as a fresh start
	- New year, new plans, new resolutions  
3.  Paul does some of this in closing of Romans
	a.  He mentions some of his resolutions and plans
	b.  From this we can learn what our plans and focus should be
4.  We will be looking at our 3 fold focus:

I.  (v.14-21) Focus on priestly ministry
	A.  See in these first few verses that Paul concerned about lost
		1.  Calls himself a "minister" of Christ
			a.  Grk:  leitorgos
				- Eng word "liturgy"
				- Not a common slave or household servant
				- A sacred servant, performs sacred duties
				- A priest would be called a leitorgos
			b.  Paul understood his role to be priestly
		2.  What is a priest?
			a.  Mediates through teaching and worship
			b.  But Paul not talking about worship
			c.  Offering of the gentiles = preaching the Gospel
			d.  Gentiles offering living sacrifices through Gospel
		3.  We not relate to concept well
			a.  Part of rituals, Old Testament, robes, etc
			b.  It was abolished.  No longer a priesthood!
			c.  But was priesthood abolished or transformed?
		4.  (1 Pet 2:9) - Quotation from Exod 19
			a.  In one sense, every Hebrew was a priest
				- To glorify God among the nations
			b.  Our priestly role as Christians not so different
				- Proclaim his excellencies
				- We salt, light, fishers of men, vessels of honor
			c.  Our priestly role not confined to a place
				- Not in a temple or a church building
				- We ourselves are the temple
				- We do this wherever we are
	C.  How?  Example of Terry C.
		1.  He a soul winner, I just got into debates all the time
		2.  Difference?  I began to notice what he did
			a.  I had a confrontational, adversarial stance
			b.  I saw each prospect as a conquest
		3.  He simply shared what Christ had done
			a.  Didn't focus on self, a preacher, or the church
			b.  He focused on Christ
			c.  Would say, "Let me tell you about the greatest man"
		4.  After all, he trying to convert people to Christ
	D.  That is what Paul is saying (v.18)
		1.  (v.19) - He preached Christ and his Gospel
		2.  1:16 - Gospel has power to save (not issues)
		3.  I Cor 2:1-4 - Nothing but Christ and him crucified
		4.  Need to be ready to give an account for our hope IN CHRIST
			a.  Tell what Christ has done
			b.  Tell why that gives you hope
			c.  Don't start with "you should" till you share "God has...)

II.  (v.22-29)  Focus on Fellowship
	A.  Paul already spoke of fellowship in chap 12-14
		1.  He still speaking of it here
		2.  Gentile mission and fellowship related issues
			a.  Gentiles enter into fellowship with God when obey
			b.  That means they to be in fellowship with Jews who obey
	B.  What is fellowship
		1.  Words:  Fellowship, communion, participation, sharing, giving
		2.  Paul mentions two expressions of fellowship v.26-27
			a.  Sharing in Spiritual things
				- Talking about preaching the Gospel to gentiles
				- Jews receive it first
				- They took it to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, world
			b.  Sharing in physical things
				- Talking about gentile support of needy Jews
				- What will acceptance from Jewish Christians say?
				- Will show that Gentile and Jewish Christian are one
				- Benevolence is expression of fellowship
		3.  Other expressions of fellowship in the Bible
			a.  Lord's Supper, Suffering, 
			b.  Also prayer together, worship, deference, acceptance
	C.  A congregation one year had over $3000 of in house benevolence
		1.  At that time we had about 85.
		2.  Took seriously that we were a fellowship
			a.  We did good to all, especially of household of faith
			b.  Not grow weary doing good
			c.  Took example in Acts 2 seriously
				- Nothing we had was our own
				- We shared as anyone had need
		3.  We were expressing fellowship in Christ
	D.  This is a major purpose of Romans
		1.  Scholarly debate about whether Romans an occassional letter
			a.  Galatians, 1Cor, Titus, etc. have clear purposes
			b.  Some believe Romans just a theological treatise
		2.  Does Romans deal with specific problems?
			a.  Chap 12-16 theme of fellowship runs through it
			b.  Final exhortation (16:17) about fellowship
			c.  Fellowship is the purpose of Romans
		3.  How do we today increase fellowship?
			a.  (16:25) - Established, made firm through the Gospel
				- Paul began with Gospel 1:16
				- Paul did exposition of Gospel
				- Paul now concludes with Gospel
			b.  Strife torn Corinthian church he did the same
				- Began with Gospel, especially in chap 2
				- Ended with Gospel in chap 15
		4.  We must begin and conclude all we do with Gospel
			a.  God accepted us
			b.  We to accept each other as Christ accepted us
			c.  If lose focus on Gospel, lose sight of God's acceptance
			d.  We lose sight of that, fellowship is in trouble

III.  Focus on Prayer (v.30-33)
	A.  Prayer is a reflection of our relationship with God - communication
	B.  Child from religious home, but not come to church till older
		1.  During service, quiet, all bowed - Mom, what they doing?
			a.  Why, they are praying dear
			b.  With their clothes on?
		2.  To this girl, prayer is what you do when it bed time
	C.  How would you define prayer if only define it by your own actions?
		1.  To some it may be what do at dinner
			a.  For some, it what do at church
			b.  For some, what you do to comfort a sick person
			c.  For some, it what do when need something
				- Power of prayer - God grants requests
		2.  Have you ever tried to pray without asking for anything?
			a.  Long time in my walk before I tried this
				- Used canned phrases that sounded pious
				- Thanksgivings and praises were general
				- They were liturgical formulas recorded in my brain
			b.  It revealed how much I needed to grow in relationship
			c.  One day, I tried to pray and not ask for anything
				- So hard to do - I didn't know what to say to God
				- I could talk to friends, but not to God
		3.  I'm convinced we need to spend more time in prayer
		4.  Also need to spend more time learning about prayer
	D.  This is a challenge for myself and our leaders
		1.  We need to pray more together as a body
		2.  Up to me, up to elders, up to leaders to lead us there
		3.  Leaders in first church - Prayer & ministry of the word
		4.  Whenever we need to honor, thank, ask God, we need to do it

1.  Three fold focus - Sharing Gospel, Fellowship in Gospel, and Prayer
2.  We need to strike a balance 
	a.  Relationship with God is fulcrum - prayer
	b.  Sharing the Gospel on one side - sharing the faith
	c.  Fellowship in the Gospel on the other side - keeping the faith
3.  Have you obeyed the Gospel?  Invitation
4.  If you have - challenge is - Strive for balance this year in all we do
	a.  One way to help us get there
		- Life Groups - Both sharing faith, keeping faith, prayer
		- If you convinced it not work, for you it probably wont
		- I'm asking - please pray and support it
	b.  Other efforts coming this year
		- LTC, VBS, Camp
		- Mission works - Mexico, Phillipines, Muscotah, Prison Ministry
		- Newpaper column, Radio Program
		- If have idea, don't be bashful
5.  My resolution - Balance  (can evaluate myself)
	a.  We spent some time in reflection Wed. evening 2 wks ago
	b.  Elders said that is just the beginning
	c.  I would love it if Elders declared theme to be "Spiritual Balance"
	     and evaluate all our activity accordingly