Romans 15:4 - Finding Encouragement, Patience and Hope.

Romans 15:4 - Finding Encouragement, Patience and Hope.

Romans 15:4 (TNIV) For everything that was written in the past 
was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the 
Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. 

Romans 15:4 (NJB) And all these things which were written so 
long ago were written so that we, learning perseverance and the 
encouragement which the scriptures give, should have hope.  

Romans 15:4 (NLT) Such things were written in the Scriptures 
long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and 
encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled.  

Romans 15:4 (CWR) Whatever was written for our forefathers was 
also written for us. Our endurance comes from the encouragement we 
receive from Scripture which gives us hope.  

Romans 15:4 (MSG) Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, 
you can be sure it's written for us. God wants the combination of 
his steady, constant calling and warm, personal counsel in Scripture 
to come to characterize us, keeping us alert for whatever he will 
do next.  

The knowledge of the Scriptures affects our attitude toward the 
present and the future. The more we know about what God has done in 
years past, the greater the confidence we have about what he will do 
in the days ahead. We should read our Bibles diligently to increase 
our trust that God's will is best for us.  [Life Application SB] 

Men whom God favored, and to whom He entrusted great 
responsibilities, were sometimes overcome by temptation and committed sin, even as 
we at the present day strive, waver, and frequently fall into 
error. Their lives, with all their faults and follies, are open before 
us, both for our encouragement and warning. If they had been 
represented as without fault, we, with our sinful nature, might despair at 
our own mistakes and failures. But seeing where others struggled 
through discouragements like our own, where they fell under temptations 
as we have done, and yet took heart again and conquered through the 
grace of God, we are encouraged in our striving after righteousness. 
As they, though sometimes beaten back, recovered their ground, and 
were blessed of God, so we too may be overcomers in the strength of 
Jesus. On the other hand, the record of their lives may serve as a 
warning to us. It shows that God will by no means clear the guilty. He 
sees sin in His most favored ones, and He deals with it in them even 
more strictly than in those who have less light and responsibility. 
{PP 238} 

Hope For All To Read
   Historically, John Wycliffe has been recognized as the first 
clear voice to profess that "the gospel alone is sufficient to rule 
the lives of Christians." As one might imagine, that didn't mesh 
very well with the man-made laws of the fourteenth-century church. 
   Responding to the mandate of Romans 15:4, Wycliffe, with his 
friend John Purvey, spent the last six years of his life translating 
the Latin Bible into English for all to read. 
   The church bitterly opposed the translation, saying, "The 
scriptures have become vulgar, and they are more available today, and even 
to women who can read, than they were to learned scholars, who have 
a high intelligence. So the pearl of the gospel is scattered and 
trodden underfoot by swine 
   Wycliffe's legacy was so consequential that in 1415, more 
than thirty years after his death, he was found guilty of heresy. The 
church council ordered his body dug up and burned and the ashes 
scattered in the river. But that did not stop the people's hunger for 
truth. Two centuries later, in the wake of the Reformation, King James 
finally authorized an English version of the Bible. 
   John Wycliffe, a fourteenth-century rector and translator, is 
known as the "Morning Star of the Reformation." [The One Year Bible 
Live Verse Devotional] 

Choosing Hope
   Lewis Smedes chose a provocative subtitle for his book 
Standing on the Promises: "Keeping Hope Alive for a Tomorrow We Cannot 
   The seeds for the book were sown after the 1992 riots in Los 
Angeles, when Smedes was led "from charred ruin to charred ruin, from 
burned-out hope to burnedout hope, each sad scene seducing closer to the 
gully of despair." A few weeks later, while driving, Smedes was jolted 
by seeing above him a brilliant billboard above Airport Boulevard 
with three words in arresting red: "KEEP HOPE ALIVE."  
   To the L.A. residents with burned-out homes and businesses, 
despair often trumped hope. Anyone who has endured the tragic 
consequences of a degenerating culture and incessant world crises knows that 
hopelessness is a tempting option. But it doesn't have to be that way.  
   Smedes asks, "Why do some people always abound in hope and 
others always slouch to despair? How can we become more hopeful 
persons? How can we keep on hoping when our fondest hopes crash on the 
rugged edges of tragedy?"  
   The apostle Paul, who himself experienced plenty of tragedy, 
was one who always abounded in hope. We see how he confronted 
disaster with irrepressible hope when he wrote to the Romans, "We can 
rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they 
help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of 
character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation" 
(Romans 5:3-4 NLT). He went on to say, "Rejoice in our confident hope. 
Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying" (Romans 12:12 NLT).  
   Though in deep trouble, Paul emphasized hope. 
Smedes says, "Choosing to keep on struggling against despair and 
to keep on choosing for hope - this is to take responsibility to 
write our life story empowered by hope."  
   Lord, you know it's often hard for me to feel hopeful. More 
and more I realize I can't create my own hope! It comes only from 
you. Help me get my eyes off my troubles and onto your grace and 
compassion for others. [The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra 
re Romans 15: 4, 13 NLT] 

The Lion In The Marble
   Henri Nouwen used a familiar tale about Michelangelo to make 
a spiritual point:  
   A little boy watched as the famous sculptor hammered and 
chiseled at a block of marble. Pieces fell and flew away; but the child 
had no idea what was happening. Weeks later, the boy returned and 
was surprised by a large, powerful lion sitting in the place where 
the marble block had stood. Excited, he ran to Michelangelo and 
asked, "Sir, tell me, how did you know there was a lion in the marble?" 
   Just as Michelangelo was able to "see" the lion in the 
marble, so, too, God, the Master Sculptor, sees what we can become. He 
gradually chips away at the parts that don't belong until we finally 
become all that he intends for us to be.  
   Nouwen writes, "Spiritual direction is the interaction 
between the little child, the master sculptor, and the emerging, 
beautiful marble lion."  
   All that hammering and chipping, however, can be sweaty and 
difficult. "Living a spiritual life is far from easy," Nouwen admits. 
"Marble doesn't give way easily, and neither does the human spirit 
quickly conform to God's design. Being formed in God's likeness involves 
the struggle to move from absurd living to obedient living."  
   Nouwen defines absurd living as deafness in which we don't 
hear the voice of the Creator who calls us to new life. Such living 
is painful because it cuts us off from the essential source of our 
   In contrast, Nouwen says, the meaning of obedience includes 
the word audire, which means "listening."  
   We seem much more wired to make requests and to talk than to 
listen. Yet hearing what God communicates to us through his Word and his 
Holy Spirit - and then responding - creates the dynamic of spiritual 
   Henri Nouwen challenges us to listen very carefully. "Our God 
is a God who cares, heals, guides, directs, challenges, confronts, 
corrects, and forms us."  
   Lord, I don't know what "lion" you might see in me, but I 
want to be formed in your likeness. Help me to hear what you say and 
to obey as you give me the willpower. I'll then praise you for your 
grace. [The One Year Book of Encouragement by Harold Myra re Romans 
15:4, NLT]