Prayer Focus:    Ukraine

Bible Reading: Romans 1-4; Acts 20:1-3

Scripture – 

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—  the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David,  and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.  Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.  And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you,because your faith is being reported all over the world.  God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you  in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong—  that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.  I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.  That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.  For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

– Rom 1:1-18

Observation-  I picked the introduction of this passage as the scripture for today because this book is so rich and so essential to understanding and to explaining what it is that as Christians we believe.  Through the first books of Romans, Paul outlines how Gentiles and  Jews alike have fallen short of being without blame and deserving of God’s glory.  But I also picked it because it shows the dramatic change that occurred in the man we call Paul.  As Paul started this letter to the church in Rome he was 25 years older than when he struggled in the bright light of the Lord of Acts 9:3.  He was in the middle of his 3rd Missionary trip to the lost and he wanted desperately to go home to Rome and bring the gospel to them.

But remember who this man was, Acts 8 and 9 describes “Saul” as a villain and assailant to the church.  Acts 8 starts with Saul approving the stoning of Stephen.   Acts 8: 3 says: “ But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. ”     When Saul encounters the Lord in Acts 9:3 however, he promises to serve him.   Here, twenty five years later we see that God has began a mighty work with Paul and that many were coming to be saved and follow the Church.

Application –   I find it almost inconceivable that God sought to use Saul, a man that persecuted and tried to destroy his bride.  But he did, and Paul caused thousands to be saved in his time.  And he continues to help save others and call others to the ministry through the letter to the Romans that we are reading now.    If God can use a carnal sinner like Saul to do his work, he can use us too!!

Prayer –  Lord, thank you for your servant, Paul, and what he became.  Thank you for his letters to the churches that we can use to learn what it is to be Christian.  Lord help us to have the dedication to reach the lost as Paul had and help us to do your will.   Let it be said of us that we were chosen instruments to carry HIS name to the Gentile, the Jew and All Nations.  Amen.