December 7, 2018

Craving Some Peace in the Midst of Chaos?

Romans 15:30–16:2

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30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, 31 that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 so that by God's will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. 33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Personal Greetings

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant1 of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.


[1] 16:1 Or deaconess

Craving Some Peace in the Midst of Chaos?

Bio | Laura Johns

Hello to you! I'm Laura Johns. I'm a wife of five years to my most favorite man, Kevin. Together, we are (novice) parents to our delightful 3-year-old girl, Olivia Ruth. I'm a sister, a teacher, a daughter, but most importantly I'm a daughter of our Holy God. My life isn't always marked by peace; so I am so glad I've gotten to meditate on these verses. I'm also so very glad that you are reading this today. Whatever circumstance you are in, whatever emotion you're feeling—God knows and cares, and He is talking to you through His Word.

Central Truth

God tells us that there will be tribulations. But He also assures us that He is with us and that we can have peace through Christ. He is the perfect balance of mercy and justice; He is the holy, unchanging, unfathomable, trustworthy God of peace.

Devotional | Romans 15:30–16:2

Paul is starting to conclude his letter to the believers in Rome. That makes these verses special because conclusions are meant to stick, and this one doesn't disappoint.

He starts off asking for prayers,...

Paul is starting to conclude his letter to the believers in Rome. That makes these verses special because conclusions are meant to stick, and this one doesn't disappoint.

He starts off asking for prayers, because he and the Roman believers are family—brothers and sisters because they are all God's children. He asks first to be kept safe from opposition. Then he asks for prayers that the gift he brought from Gentile believers ("my service for Jerusalem" in Romans 15:31; see also Romans 15:26-27) would be accepted by the Jewish believers, thereby unifying and strengthening the church. His prayer requests are for the ultimate goal of furthering the church.

Let's review a little bit about Paul: He was shipwrecked more than once. He was betrayed by close friends. And did you know that Paul was once stoned and survived? (For Paul's full account, check out 2 Corinthians 11:24-31.) Clearly, Paul had faced more than his fair share of trials.

So what's the difference between acting like Paul and acting . . . well . . . not like Paul? Paul knew, securely, that God perfectly guided him. He walked each moment in submission to God's will, without regard for his own life. He lived with the knowledge that God sacrificed His own Son's life to rescue sinners like himself. And he lived in the freedom that such submission brings.

In John 16:32b-33, Jesus says, "Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." Jesus is telling us that there will be pain and trouble. You may experience fear that you can't even bring yourself to speak. Jesus knows it and assures you that "the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Romans 8:26)

Jesus wasn't immune from the same trials we face; His pain even exceeded our own. But He tells us that the Father is with Him and that His Father is the source of peace. He prays that we have that same peace because we, too, are offered it. In all circumstances.

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Discussion Questions

1. On this day 77 years ago, December 7, 1941, more than 2,000 Americans were killed in a matter of moments when Pearl Harbor was bombed. That was a devastating example of the tribulation we read about in John 16:33. What hope is provided in the midst of tribulation? What verses verify that? Consider memorizing them.

2. Does reading 2 Corinthians 11:24-31 alter your perspective on anything in your life? Paul sang while in chains in a prison (Acts 16:25). In his shoes, would you have been tempted to wallow in your misery? To cave into fear? How can you combat that?

3. Phoebe carried Paul's letter to the Romans over 600 miles from Corinth to Rome. Paul refers to Phoebe as "our sister" because she is a fellow believer and a servant of the Lord. Who are your brothers and sisters? What qualities give them that status in your life?

9 Comments available

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

On craving peace, you can also taste goodness in the midst of trouble.

This reminds me of Psalm 34 where in the title regards the time David drooled on his beard to escape a dangerous terrorist philistine ruler. Even when life is crazy we can ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’

( and the Psalm even points forward to the time when the righteous poor man who cried bones would not be broken. And they weren’t on the cross. God’s goodness tasted and seen in the worst of troubles. )

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

Paul wanted them to pray “…I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company…” but it didn’t turn out as expected. He took years in prison and got there in chains.

greg jones 6 months ago

I am grateful for my freedom.

What is going on behind the scenes when most of the NT is written is Roman occupation and rule over Jerusalem. Jews are happy to be living in the land but some are wondering how do we make God pleased enough for him to kick out the Romans fulfilling the promises made to our ancestors. That was causing tribulation and chaos for many

Q1 Pearl Harbor 2000 dead in moments. Unimaginabled 1st century speed of death. Nagasaki and Hiroshima 120,000 dead in one instant, many more later from the aftermath. Personally I tend to inwardly love those kinds of numbers, pay back baby, while I outwardly profess my love of the words of Jesus. Matthew 5:38 might not be the best quote right now.

Chaos to peace-tribulation-is an exchange that comes with a cost to someone.

Gabriel Adel 6 months ago

Love Central Truth! Great devotional sharing on how to find perfect peace in the midst of a chaos or tribulation is really great about how you use paul life story to help us understand how and how you pointed us to Christ himself and about what he went through, the sources of his strength and how he called us to do the same.

Michael Scaman 6 months ago

Paul exhorts the Roman believers to strive together in love, then gives a specific way to strive together by welcoming and helping Phoebe.

Sue Bohlin 6 months ago

Hi Laura, and thank you for your devo, especially reminding us of Pearl Harbor Day.

I learned that when Paul asks his Roman friends to “strive together” with him in prayer, that the Greek verb literally means “agonize with me.” It’s the only time this word is used in the Bible. David Guzik writes in his commentary, “Yet, this same root word for agony is used of Jesus’ anguished prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asked His disciples to agonize with Him in prayer. They failed at that critical moment and left Jesus to struggle alone. We must not leave our ministers and leaders to struggle alone.” I am reminded that sometimes, prayer involves anguish and agony and hard work.

Lindsey Driscoll 6 months ago

Peace in the midst of Chaos is a great way to describe Paul. Thank you for that description Laura. Admist chaos Paul desired to come to Rome to be joyful and refreshing to his Roman brothers and sisters in Christ (15:30). How can we be joyful and refreshing, in opposition? By completely surrendering to God’s will (15:32) and being devoted to prayer (15:31).

Ronnie Oldfield 6 months ago

Q2 & whole “Chaos” thing. Praying readers gains different Chaos perspective—myself included!!! While driving tonight The Holy Spirit has shown I’m not doing gospel heavy lifting Jesus asked of me. Therefore, I resolve to use any political discussion to segue to the gospel. A political party believing preborn babies can be murdered has come to power locally. How can this be? It’s my fault. Not using my spiritual gifts to discern earlier this IS the defining issue of this historical period. I pray three days sitting outside in freezing rain, snow allows Holy Spirit to show me every issue in America can be traced back to this- If Taxes, debt, immigration, schools, roads, crime were all solved yet America still aborts a million babies what cost will my soul bear. Forgive me Father for my tardiness, give me strength to dive into Chaos.

Hugh Stephenson 6 months ago

What an awesome title. Peace in the midst of chaos. It’s what we say at Prodigal.

God gave us Paradise. We listened to snakes and got chaos.

Then he brought us out of slavery to the Promised Land. And we complained.

He gave us a Savior. And we rejected Him.

How bad does it have to get? Luke 15 eating-with-the-pigs bad? Apparently.

I know I am called to be more and more like Jesus. Yet, sometimes I identify more with Paul. I’ve walked the Hugh version of the Damascus road. He restored my sight and showed me the race He has marked out for me.

Shipwrecks. Abuse. Snakes. Yet, He gives me endurance. Encouragement. Purpose. Abundant life. Joy in Him - for the world’s is fleeting.

Praise God for the light and momentary afflictions that draw me to Him.

Come Jesus come.

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