Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-7
Brother Paul was surely a model of faithfulness. Even when imprisoned in a dank, dark, dirty prison he was committed to encouraging the Body of Christ. His letter to the church in Rome conveys the core teachings of Christianity. From his introductory greeting through its conclusion, the book of Romans presents profound truths worthy of pause. I like to personalize God’s Word by inserting my name in the text. As always, thinking this morning about all you who are committed to worshipping your Father in both body and spirit, I prayerfully expounded upon Romans 1:1-7:
Grace (insert your own name), a servant of Christ Jesus…
Gracious Father, I confess the things I have done and left undone. My days rarely reflect my sacred servitude to You. No, I’m quite focused on fulfilling my own comfort, yearnings and desires. If I allowed You to completely direct my days – if I were unfailingly responsive to Your daily directions – what would my thoughts, actions and schedule look like?
Called to be an apostle…
apostle – one who is sent out on a mission.
Oh Lord, as I muse on the many around me who don’t know the joy and peace of surrendering to Your Son, I am deeply saddened. But do I intentionally and expectantly look for opportunities to love the lost and share Your saving grace with them? Rarely… But I am called to be an apostle – a faithful follower – an evangelist of the faith while I’m on this ball. My mission this side of heaven is more than care-free days or a weed-free garden. Help me to look at my life and my actions like Brother Paul – privileged to be called an apostle of Christ.
Set apart for the gospel…
The Gospel. The Good News. There it is again, Jesus. I am set apart – selected – elected – handpicked by my Heavenly Father to tell all about Your love. You became flesh, then died a barbaric death to bring abundant life to the downtrodden. We get all excited about being selected for a certain job or chosen by our sweetheart for marriage or set apart from the pack by a gold medal. But You chose me to be Your daughter and to invite others into our Family. You picked me! Yet I’m hiding Your Good News. Father, open my eyes to those who need Your comfort and boldness to share the Your love with the lost.
Brother Paul continues his introduction by reviewing the prophetic fulfillment of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name.
We, Christ’s apostles, have received grace – favor – preferential treatment, divine assistance and influence – and apostleship – selected for the privilege to be a missionary – commissioned by Christ to tell His love story. Now that’s the TOP job, don’t you agree?
May I share another thought with you?
Many of you have admitted you struggle some with your physical health. You tend to choose unfulfilling foods and you don’t tend to your temple. Am I right? Well what about this idea: What if, in the words of the 1990’s business gurus, you had a paradigm shift. Instead of focusing on your food cravings and your disdain for exercise, what if you viewed it all through apostle’s eyes? If you intentionally ate as a faithful representative of the Body of Christ, what foods would you choose? Consider how athletes’ fuel reflects their unfaltering focus on the prize. Is your call to care for your temple a comparably noble goal? If you are the image of Christ, do you reflect His victory over the flesh? As you slowly transform your physical condition by renewing your mind, isn’t that a tangible testimonial? Instead of bemoaning exercise, what if you invited your non-believing neighbor and witnessed while you walked?
Saints, we are called to be ambassadors of Christ in thought, word and deed. In spirit and in the flesh. On good days and bad. Amidst all our other “pressing commitments” and obligations.
Remember, you are a chosen ambassador.