Mission Devotional - May 2, 2016

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 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, 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, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 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

Today's Devotional Reading

Romans 1:1-7
The first few times I encountered the book of Romans, I saw these opening lines and skimmed over them, considering them to be the typical, long-winded introduction of a typical, long-winded preacher. Seriously, Paul… let's cut to the chase here and just start with verse 8. Didn't folks know who wrote this letter? I imagine that it didn't arrive without accompanying information regarding who the author was. Why is it necessary to fill seven verses when a simple, "Hi folks, Paul here," would have sufficed?

Here's how I would have re-written it: "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

This certainly lends itself better to our current culture. I could even send that out and have characters left over in Twitter for my hash tags: #PaulNotSaul #PrisonAgain #FreeRomeVacation

Why, Paul?

Let's look at what I cut from his opening address: the Gospel. In just one sentence Paul not only says hello, but delivers the news of the Gospel within his very being. He basically weaves his very existence with his understanding of God's purpose in his life. His sentence is not verbose - in fact, it is an incredibly efficient and evangelical explanation of what Paul considers his identity to be - which is one called by God for His purpose.

What would the world look like if our very identity was so inextricably linked with God's saving, grace-filled work in us that we couldn't help but exude the Gospel even in the smallest of tasks? How would that refocus and reshape every aspect of our lives?

YOUR-NAME, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 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, 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, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those everywhere who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let the work begin. - Andrew Duncan, Director of Choral Ministries

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Mike and Stephanie are working with a project called LEARN (Leadership Education and Resource Network) based in Beirut, Lebanon. The project's aim is to provide high quality, interactive Biblical training via Internet to Arabic-speakers wherever they are found. Pray today for Mike and Stephanie for their times of mentoring and praying and counseling with students. Many times these moments come unexpectedly. They want to be ready to go with students into the presence of God for healing, for truth, for transformation.

We support a family that is serving at a sanatorium for chest diseases, focusing on bringing holistic healing for body and soul to the semi-nomadic people of the area by providing high quality healthcare for them. Our supported worker serves in the Mobile Dental Clinic that was donated to the Annoor Sanatorium to further the outreach and care to Bedouin in remote areas. This clinic is housed in a 25-foot straight truck with two dental operatories, each with x-ray capability, a compressor and vacuum suction. The clinic is a great resource to meet the felt needs of the poor in places where it is hard or impossible to receive any kind of dental care. This is another way Annoor is demonstrating the love of God to those who are in need. When not on the road, the clinic operates adjacent to the hospital serving the needs of in-patients. Pray today for all who are serving at Annoor.