Romans 15:4-13 (NRSV)
Verse 4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.
Verse 5May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, Verse 6so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 7Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Verse 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, Verse 9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name"; Verse 10and again he says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people"; Verse 11and again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him"; Verse 12and again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope."
Verse 13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There was a man who had dealt with addiction for a large part of his life. He had found help in a community of people who weren't afraid to admit they needed help. They spoke about a higher power. He wondered, "Who or what is this higher power? What does that have to do with my life?"
Paul is helping the Gentiles in Rome see how God planned to include them in the salvation offered in Jesus Christ. "You're included," Paul is saying, "through your faith in Jesus. This was always God's plan. Jesus is God's gift of hope."
The man in the story discovered he was included, too. Some Christians shared their stories with him. He received the gift of God's grace in Jesus and experienced the joy and peace that comes from believing. By the power of God's Spirit, now he too has hope.
God of hope, remind us today that no matter our circumstances, we always have hope in you. Fill us with the joy of knowing that nothing can separate us from your love. Help us be aware of others in our lives who might need to hear about this gift of hope we have in Jesus. Amen.