Terry Baxter Devotional

Taking The Test: Colossians 1:3-5

Taking The Test: Colossians 1:3-5
“3) We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4) since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5) because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel” Colossians‬ ‭1:3-5‬
Paul opens this letter to the Colossians believers in the same way he writes to the Thessalonians. He evaluates their faith, love and hope. (See 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3) Paul used these three qualities as a measuring stick of genuine conversion and spiritual growth.
With these three qualities present, people were bumped to the top of Paul’s prayer list. In the Thessalonian text, Paul talked about a “work of faith, labor of love and steadfast hope.” The Spirit of God used them for something bigger than themselves, deeper than themselves and more enduring than themselves.
These were not mere attitudes, they were actions. Their faith was engaged in godly activity. Their love was infectious toward others. And their hope grew into an unshakable confidence in God and the promise of eternal life. These were men and women of substance.
Paul was not interested in mere “spirituality” in people. Every pagan religion produces people who are spiritual. Don’t be deceived by mere “spirituality.” Paul wanted to see a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ evidenced by the working of the Holy Spirit in and through people. Paul looked for evidence of true salvation and conversion. He used faith, agape love and hope as his measuring stick. He understood that the gospel changes people.
Do you pass the test? Has your relationship with Jesus Christ produced a change in you? Is your faith producing a work for God that is bigger than yourself? Does Agape love flow through you? Is your confidence anchored in heaven? Are you walking with Jesus on a daily basis?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Introduction to the Book of Colossians: Colossians 1:1-2

Introduction to the Book of Colossians: Colossians 1:1-2
“1) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2)To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” Colossians‬ ‭1:1-2‬
We now start a study of the Book of Colossians. For those new to my writing, I write a Daily Bible Commentary for spiritual enrichment, growth and challenge. Let me share a brief personal background.
I became a Christian in 1973. I am a graduate of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, am ordained in the Evangelical Free Church of America and have served as a pastor, mission leader and evangelist since 1977. I have traveled and ministered extensively nationally, internationally and interdenominationally. I am the Cofounder of a mission agency called “GoServ Global” and am currently serving my forth term as a Representative in the Iowa State Legislature. I love Jesus and am Spirit filled. I am very dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit in and through my life.
I love Bible study and work hard to be biblically sound in my teaching. I am very interested in practical theology that can be applied to daily living and avoid theological arguments that do little to edify or feed revival and awakening. I try to be both informative and motivational in my writing.
When we tackle an entire book, I try to do a verse by verse study and let the text determine the subject matter and the teaching content. I avoid imposing my meaning or views on the text, but rather seek to discover what God was saying to the original recipients of the letter. I would rather be biblically accurate than politically correct.
If the text differs from my personal opinion or moral bias, I defer to the authority of the Bible and invite God to change me and my views to line up with His Word. I invite you to have the same courage. Every Christian should strive to live out a solid biblical world view. With that brief background, let’s roll up our sleeves and tackle the book of Colossians.
Most scholars believe the book of Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul while a prisoner in Rome around AD 62. He sent it to the believers in the city of Colossae by the hand of Tychicus. (See Colossians 4:7-8) He may have delivered the small book of Philemon while on this same journey.
Colossae was an important city of Phrygia in Asia Minor located about 60 miles east of Ephesus. There is no record that Paul personally visited the city of Colossae, but he received ample news about this thriving church from Epaphras. (See Colossians 1:3-8)
Many consider the book of Colossians to be a companion book to Ephesians. They cover some of the same content, but the book of Colossians focuses much more on the works, Lordship and Deity of Jesus Christ. (See Colossians 2:9) This book is essential in any study of Christology. (The study of Jesus Christ)
The opening two verses of this book are very typical of the Apostle Paul. He points out that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. The word “apostle” means both “set apart” and “sent out.” Paul had a strong calling, unction and mandate on his life.
The immediate recipients of this letter were the “saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colossae.” (Vs 2) The word “saint” can be applied to every born-again believer. It means “a holy, sanctified or consecrated one.” Some have noted that “you are either a saint or an aint.” You are either a born-again Christian through personal faith in Jesus Christ or you are a non-Christian. There is no middle ground.
Get ready for a very informative and challenging study. I encourage you to read this post each day with your Bible open. Ask the Holy Spirit to use the book of Colossians in your life. This book is packed with truth, meaning and insight. It will call for deep application in your life. Be ready to grow and change. You cannot sincerely study this book and remain the same.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Reach for the Abundant Life: John 10:10

Reach for the Abundant Life: John 10:10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John‬ ‭10:10‬
Some people spend their entire life dying. They have a terrible attitude, negative outlook and pessimistic view of everything. They fear failure and have no goals or dreams. They know nothing about self discipline and basically drift through life. They feed their minds with fleshly values and fuel their bodies with junk foods. Then they complain because they don’t feel well or have much energy. They are constantly lethargic. Unfortunately, a good share of these people are Christians.
Others make the most of life. They have a positive attitude, optimistic outlook and usually focus on the bright side of life. They overcome obstacles, set high goals and run into the face of challenges. These people work on themselves daily both physically and spiritually. They intentionally feed their mind and spirit with good content and learn more about good nutrition and healthy living. They invite God to change them.
Jesus came to not only save people; He came to change them. He came with the promise of an abundant life. Stop letting Satan steal from you! Invite Jesus to be your life coach.
Become intentional about personal growth and development on every level. This includes body, soul, spirit, interpersonal relationships and finances. Stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution. Dig a hole and burry your excuses. I don’t care how big or small your excuses are… kill them before they squeeze the life out of you. Turn disadvantages into opportunities and obstacles into launching pads. With Jesus helping you, reach for your potential and work on yourself every day. Change your mindset!
As you grow and let God change you, soon your capacity will be greatly enlarged. This explains why God often does extraordinary things through very ordinary and unlikely people. As they sincerely walk with Jesus, they grow, change and are enlarged in character, mindset, outlook and capability. They do not remain stagnant in life. They constantly think bigger, reach higher and work harder. They do not remain average. They grow into becoming “the one in a hundred” or “the one in a thousand.”
The road to the abundant life is a daily journey. Salvation is merely the first step. Invite the Holy Spirit wash, cleanse and transform you. Cooperate with God in turning you into a “mighty one” for His glory. Don’t waste your life on empty and futile things. Think, believe, act and live in terms of the abundant life and the kingdom of God!
The abundant life is not measured by what you own, it’s measured by who you become over time. God can change people quickly once they surrender to Him and start down the road of personal growth and development. Don’t sit on the sidelines of life. Get serious about your journey. You only get one chance at life. Make the most of it!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Amazing Benefits of Fasting: Isaiah 58:6-9

Amazing Benefits of Fasting: Isaiah 58:6-9
“6) Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? 7) Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh? 8) Then your light will break out like the dawn, And your recovery will speedily spring forth; And your righteousness will go before you; The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9) Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you remove the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,” Isaiah‬ ‭58:6-9‬ ‭
It often takes years for modern medicine and science to catch up with the Bible. I have been a passive advocate of fasting for many years. It usually involved one or two fasts a year of two to three days. My goal was both to seek God in prayer, but I was also intrigued by the promise of the health benefits mentioned in verse 8. The Hebrew actually reads that “your health will spring forth speedily.”
Recently, I’ve started watching numerous videos on the medical benefits of fasting. YouTube is filled with medical doctors expounding on exciting cutting edge research on fasting. It appears to do everything from help detoxify the body to stimulating the production of new stem cells devoted to physical healing. The research is amazing.
Not to minimize the spiritual benefits of fasting, but I am now very intrigued by the health benefits of fasting. In recent months, I have started both intermittent fasting of 16 hours daily to more frequent longer fasts of 36 to 72 hours every few weeks or month. It was a challenge at first, but now it has become normal for me.
I cannot report any really big break through in my health, but my mood in happier, my weight is down some and I have more energy. Part of this in my case may be do to the fact that I previously switched to more clean foods in my diet and removed most greasy foods, highly processed foods, sugars and drastically reduced my consumption of dairy. I’ve also limited the amount of meats to a few meals a week. I prefer wild game and fish. I eat plenty of fruits, veggies, grains and nuts. I like Ezekiel bread and have no problem with a Daniel diet and am intrigued by Genesis 1:29.
I am absolutely fascinated by the idea of “Let thy food be they medicine.” I believe God has given us everything in clean, natural and unprocessed foods to live healthy and happy lives. My international travel has led me to the conclusion that our modern chronic health problems in America can be traced directly to our terrible western died. I believe the medical evidence is now indisputable that the cure for diabetes, heart disease, obesity and many forms of cancer is as simple as a change of diet.
Having said that, I give myself some latitude when dining out or when invited over to someone’s house for a meal. I try not to be awkward or a burden to others because of my diet, but I do try to make healthy choices whenever possible.
I also believe that fasting is the missing link to healthy living. You can drive yourself nuts trying to eat just the right foods, whatever that means to you. I have seen some people literally eat a meal of vitamins minerals and supplements. I feel like asking them if they want some catchup on there pile of pills.
My personal new motto’s are: “Let my food be my medicine” and “Do my best and let fasting do the rest.” I do take vitamin D and B3 daily, but beyond that I try getting everything else through organic good foods. When I do binge, I know that my intermittent fasting will mop up any problem. For me its that simple.
I believe the Bible absolutely nails healthy eating and Isaiah 58 gives the missing link. I do not write this post to argue about the best diet, but rather to share my story and encourage you to take your health and nutrition seriously. I believe there are simple answers to America’s chronic health problems and it has everything on do with what and how we eat.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Gospel in Prophecy: Isaiah 53

The Gospel in Prophecy: Isaiah 53
“3) He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4) Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5) But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6) All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.” Isaiah‬ ‭53:3-6‬
Isaiah now prophesies the details of the death of Jesus. The gospel is in this text. Jesus indeed died to pay for the sins of humanity. “5) But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.”
This verse is a description of the crucifixion. It even includes His scourging. To be clear, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.” He was the substitute payment for our sins. Verses 11-12 makes that clear, “He will justify the many” as a result of His suffering.
Why is this chapter so important? God does nothing unless He first reveals it to His prophets. Altogether, there are over 300 Old Testament prophecies about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They cover the span of the whole Old Testament.
To be sure, Israel was without excuse for rejecting the Messiah because they were foretold about everything. But all nations are without excuse because they also were addressed in the book of Isaiah. We are all like straying sheep.
It has been said that the New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. I have been a Christian and avid Bible student since 1973. I am continually amazed at the unity and harmony of the Bible as a whole. It is intended to be studied in its entirety.
In the Bible God reveals Himself to mankind and His plans for human redemption. He also includes warnings of judgement for the wicked and the future doom of the devil and his fallen angels. (Revelation 20:7-15)
Let me share a biblical proposition with you. If hundreds of biblical prophecies over thousands of years have been fulfilled down to the smallest details, including the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; isn’t it highly likely that end times prophecy will also unfold just as the Bible foretells?
So what is happening today? Human history is rushing toward a prophetic biblical climax often referred to as “the end times.” This present age is drawing to a close and the Bible paints a rather clear picture of our times. See for example Matthew 24, 2 Timothy 3:1-9 or 2 Peter 2-3. These are but a few examples of the many end time prophecies that are unfolding before our very eyes.
If you are a non-Christian or backsliding Christian, I would admonish you to get right with God. Turn to Jesus Christ and start studying your Bible with fresh resolve. These are very exciting days. God is stepping up to the plate and fulfilling His Word. You will be a part of it… just make sure you are on the right team!
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Isaiah Foretells The Coming of Jesus: Isaiah 42:1-4

Isaiah Foretells The Coming of Jesus: Isaiah 42:1-4
““1) Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. 2) He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. 3) A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. 4) He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”” Isaiah‬ ‭42:1-4‬
As we shall see over the next few days, the prophet Isaiah gave many prophecies about Jesus as the coming Messiah. This is one of them.
Jesus quoted this very text about Himself in Matthew 12:15-21. The whole gospel can be shared by using only the book of Isaiah. As we unpack many of these prophesies about Jesus from the book of Isaiah, it becomes astounding that the Jewish nation missed Him.
Of course, the most obvious two texts about His birth were Isaiah 7:14-15 combined with Isaiah 9:6-7. These two tell about His virgin birth and His identity as God. Verse six says, “… and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Some argue that “Wonderful Counselor” should be broken into two titles. Make no mistake, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God.
So why are these prophesies in the book of Isaiah so important? Simple because they were given hundreds of years before Jesus was born. God was preparing the way before Him.
You may wonder, “If Isaiah foretold so much about His birth, did he say anything about His death?” That’s a great question we will tackle in the next post.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

The Secret to Personal Renewal: Isaiah 40

The Secret to Personal Renewal: Isaiah 40
““1) Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. 2) “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins.”” Isaiah‬ ‭40:1-2‬ ‭
Isaiah chapter 40 stands out as a special chapter in the book of Isaiah. After much discipline, affliction and judgement for their sinful ways and stubborn heart, God wants Isaiah to comfort His people. They had turned away from God to serve other gods and idols and had been sorely disappointed. As Isaiah writes, they were returning to God but had endured very difficult times.
The chapter opened with God telling Isaiah to comfort His people. How does he accomplish that feat? He reviews the greatness of God and reminds Israel that God is for them and not against them. I will not ruin the chapter for you, but I will review some highlights to look for as you read this amazing chapter.
He starts in verses 3-11 by pointing to the coming of the Messiah. These verses are often sited as referring to the ministry of John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus. (See John 1:23) The Bible consistently points to Jesus Christ as the only solution for humanities problems.
Then in verses 12-17 He describes the greatness of God by contrasting Him to the earth He created. He knows it down to the smallest spec of dust on its surface. He concludes that the raging of the nations are as nothing compared to God. He is completely in control.
Then in verses 18-26, Isaiah briefly describes the futility of idolatry and compares man made idols to the magnificence of God. He concludes that God created the heavens and knows every star by name. I like verse 23, “He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, who makes judges of the earth meaningless.” God fears no earthly ruler or leader. He blows on them and they whither. The point is that God does not want His people to faint or fret because of ungodly human rulers. Instead they need to sharpen their focus on God.
The chapter concludes with one of the most moving promises of Gods ability to care for His people found in the whole Bible. Rather than becoming exasperated and fainting because of all the drama in this life, God wants His people to look to Him and be renewed like an Eagle. Let me conclude by quoting the final four verses in this chapter.
“28) Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. 29) He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. 30) Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, 31) Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah‬ ‭40:28-31‬
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Welcome To The Highway of Holiness: Isaiah 35:8-10

Welcome To The Highway of Holiness: Isaiah 35:8-10
“8) A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it. 9) No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; These will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there, 10) And the ransomed of the Lord will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah‬ ‭35:8-10‬ ‭
Jesus is coming back for His people. According to this chapter, it will be a day of vengeance on the wicked and the ungodly, but He is coming for His redeemed. At that time there will be a highway, a very broad roadway that leads to Jesus. It will be called “The Highway of Holiness.”
Every Christian is called to journey down a Highway of Holiness. It starts at the moment of salvation and continues until we one day stand before Him face to face.
As a new Christian, nobody told me I was on this roadway, but the Holy Spirit began to change my morals, character and conduct. He began His faithful role of washing, sanctifying, cleansing and purifying me. (Read Titus 3:4-7)
My journey began many years ago. God is so good. I came to Him as a youthful teenager. Now I am an aged man with gray hair. My journey has passed through mountains and valleys, plains and deserts. It has even included a few ruts and ditches that Jesus had to pull me from. It has crossed oceans and left foot prints in many countries.
Each day of the journey the Holy Spirit has been working to conform me more to the image of Jesus. I must be a difficult case… for my journey continues… but it is more glorious now than than in those early days. Let me just say that this Highway leads into the very presence of God, both in this life and in the life to come.
Some are deceived into thinking that because they are saved by grace they can travel down any moral highway. I point you to 1 John 1:5-7; “5) This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6) If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7) but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Are you traveling down “The Highway to Holiness?” It is for those who walk in the truth of the Spirit and not according to the deception of the flesh. As we journey down this Highway, we become more like Jesus. God in His grace changes us with each step and each passing day.
On this journey, the stinking clothes of our sinful old life are cast off, our minds are renewed by God’s truth and Jesus girds us in new garments decorated in His righteousness and holiness of the truth. (See Ephesians 4:17-24; Colossians 3:1-11)
Be both sincere and patient with yourself on this Journey. Jesus will not leave you or forsake you, but He will change as you press forward. You might stumble or even take a few steps backward on occasion, but Jesus will deal with you as with a beloved child. That may include loving discipline from time to time, but the goal is righteousness and holiness. (See Hebrews 12:4-17) When you go through these times, know that He is for you and not against you!
I admonished you to press forward on your journey down the “Highway to Holiness.” It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. You might not recognize much progress on a daily basis, but one day you will glance back and marvel at how far God has taken you. It doesn’t hurt to glance back occasionally, but fix your eyes on Jesus and “Press On” down the Highway of Holiness God has laid out before you. (Philippians 3:12-14)
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Conclusion to the Book of Romans: Romans 16:25-27

Conclusion to the Book of Romans: Romans 16:25-27
“25) Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 25) but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 26) to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans‬ ‭16:25-27‬ ‭
We now have the conclusion to the book of Romans. It serves as a brief summary of the entire book. At this point the Bible student needs to go back and read the full book in one setting to wrap their mind around all the moving parts that converge in the gospel.
In the book of Romans, Paul does a brief survey of human history and God raising up the Jewish nation for a noble purpose. The Old Testament is primarily the story of the Jewish people. They seemed to want to know and follow God, but lacked the inner strength or power to do so. They were slaves to sin and their own fleshly desires.
When Moses gave the Law, the children of Israel had a high and righteous moral code that defined the holiness of God, but it failed to change the inner heart of people. Paul penned the book of Romans through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to unpack and explain the full impact of the work of Jesus Christ and the gospel. Jesus not only paid for human sin on the cross, but also opened the door for a new relationship with God based on grace and faith.
The Old Testament prophets spoke of this coming age, but it was a mystery to them. (Read 1 Peter 1:10-12) They longed for it, but could not enter into the glory of the coming church age. It remained a mystery to them.
But that all changed with the coming of Jesus Christ. The book of Romans is a core part of the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret in previous ages. It explains how Jesus Christ accomplished human redemption and the possibility to live by faith and walk in the Spirit. (Review Romans 5-8) These were radically new concepts that accompanied the gospel.
In Paul’s conclusion he touched on another benefit of the gospel in verse 26. Instead of being for Israel, Jesus opened the door of salvation to “all the nations.” John 3:16 makes it clear that God loves the whole world and sent His Son to bring salvation to all mankind. People are saved by grace through faith.
Paul also makes it clear in this conclusion that the One and Only Eternal God has only one way of salvation. Not all roads lead to God. Jesus Christ is the only way to God. (See Acts 4:12) Jesus claimed to be “the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father, but through me.” (John 14:6)
The book of Romans does not point to human religion as the means to salvation. There are hundreds of man make religions. The book of Romans points to the gospel and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the only way to God.
There is an additional point that can be gleamed from these three concluding verses to the book of Romans. Verse 25 starts out by saying that God can “establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ.” Only the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change people. Paul looked for this change as an indication of true salvation.
A bit of self examination at this point is important. Has the gospel and your relationship with Jesus Christ changed you? If not, why not? The problem is not with the gospel.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global

Growing at the Speed of Relationships: Romans 16:21-24

Growing at the Speed of Relationships: Romans 16:21-24
“21) Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. 22) I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23) Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother. 24) [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]” Romans‬ ‭16:21-24‬
There was a kindred fellowship among the early believers. In Romans 16:1-16, Paul greeted many of the Christians who were in Rome. Keep in mind, Paul wrote this letter from Corinth.
As this letter comes to a close in Romans 16:21-24, a group of Paul’s ministry associates send their greetings to the Roman believers. It seems that they had close bonds with each other.
Corinth and Rome were both sea port cities around 450 miles apart by water. Travel between them was probably fairly common by merchant ships, which also sold tickets for passengers. Anyone from Rome wishing to travel to Palestine most likely stopped over in Corinth. The same held true in the opposite direction. Corinth was strategically located on the trade route from east the west.
The Christians in both churches practiced hospitality. They opened their homes to travelers. This was not only an effective evangelism tool, it also fostered kindred fellowship between these two churches. As can be ascertained from this chapter, there were many good and healthy friendships between believers within these two congregations.
I confess, Romans 16 was previously a boring chapter for me. I would skim over this chapter on my way to more palatable chapters. But this year the Holy Spirit is using this chapter to convict me of the tragically shallow friendships in my life.
It appears that ministry in the early church was built around fostering deep fellowship and relationships. That can be seen at the beginning of the church in Acts 2:41-47, and it holds true in this last chapter of the book of Romans years later. The New Testament as a whole screams the message that “Ministry Moves At The Speed Of Relationships.”
How are you doing at building healthy Christian relationships? This is where biblical application takes place and where many of the dynamics of the Christian life unfold.
Don’t fall into the isolation trap. Satan will do everything in his power to divorce you from close fellowship with the body of Christ. He wants to leave you wounded, bitter and stunted in your spiritual growth. Whatever your past bad experiences with people, shake them off and move on! You will grow at the speed of healthy relationships in your life.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global