A recent trend sweeping generations today is this idea of picking a word to identify a focus for the upcoming new year. I’ve participated for two years now, picking my “word” for 2018 and 2019: conviction and redemption, respectively.
As I prayed about God’s direction and guidance for Macey’s Place Online in 2019, I felt God leading my “online journal entries” in much the same way… the messages that He has given me through my daily quiet time with one word titles that sum up the entire content.
I find myself in awe of God because I felt led to go back over the notes that I had already written… personal study from 2018 and create content solely from those notes by diving deeper… deeper than I thought possible before now.
I found myself in Romans 1, and I searched for an old familiar journal with a cover that says “grow where you are planted.” I thumbed my way to my notes, and I found that I wrote these notes on January 29, 2018… exactly one year ago from the day that I type this message.
I remember right where I was at when I wrote them. I was sitting in a Wal-Mart parking lot in the quaint Georgia town that boasts about being the home of the Vidalia onion. I just don’t think it is a coincidence that I felt led to this chapter on this specific date that correlates with me studying this same passage one year prior.
So, I want to take us both on a deeper journey on the first few verses of Romans 1. I want to take us both on a deeper journey of this concept of having a specific purpose set by God… a journey where God taught me that I have so much left to learn about this journey called Christianity.
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God–which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures–“
If you’re like me, you skip over verses like these. What’s important in it? I’ve literally had that thought before, and man, did God show me the importance!
First, let’s take a look at Paul. Who was he?
In Acts 9, we see that Paul was formerly known as Saul, and he absolutely hated Christians. He tried to kill them every opportunity that he had. He sought them out viciously. He was known for killing Christians without remorse… but we see that God deals with Him. God makes Himself known to Saul/Paul, and he responds by acknowledging Jesus as Savior!
What’s significant about his name? In my study, I could not find a definite answer as to how or why Saul’s name was changed to Paul, but what I did find was the meaning behind the name, Paul. It means “small” or “humble.”
I remember my own salvation. I remember how small and humble I felt, but it wasn’t a degrading experience. It was a relief… to know that despite how small I was… how weak I was… the God of the universe… THE mighty God… was my Father…. was my Savior. It was incredible.
So, we see a name change… one saying, “I’m small. I’m weak without Christ. I’m choosing to abandon the pride that I once had and clothe myself in humility.”
Second, let’s take a look at how Paul described himself. What was he?
He described himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. The notes in my Bible said that Paul using this word to describe himself meant “complete loyalty to the Lord and his willingness to serve Him in obedient submission.”
Not only does Paul call himself a servant, but he also says that he is called by God and set apart.
So, what does this mean?
It means that he had a specific purpose. There was a purpose for his life that God established and that Paul had decided to fulfill. According to these verses, his calling was to tell others about Jesus… his life, his death, his resurrection, and his future coming.
Now, I’m skipping the next three verses… not because they are unimportant but because they are entire messages of their own. We’ll pick it up in verse 5.
“Through Him we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the Gentiles, including you who are also called by Jesus Christ.”
Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection gave us something that we could not earn ourselves or receive in any other way… GRACE.
Grace… this concept of receiving something that we do not deserve… like salvation and life and purpose.
And do you know what He expects us to do with grace? Apostleship.
If you’re like me, you had to google that. What’s it mean?
The literal definition is “one sent on a mission.” We have a mission.
It’s specific to each one of us yet universal to every single Christian on the planet. Tell our story of how Jesus saved us. Tell our story of Jesus’ grace in our lives. Tell our story of a God who loved us so much that He became a man, lived a perfect life, and then died a death that was meant for us.
What will grace and “Christians on a mission” do? They will bring about grace in the lives of others. They will bring about the salvation of other souls. They will bring about obedience in our lives and consequently in the lives of others. Our obedience is crucial.
“To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Who are we?
If Christians, we are sinners who are now called saints but only because of Jesus. Despite our humanity, we are loved.
What are we?
Servants… recipients of grace with a purpose given to each of us… a purpose that is specific… a purpose that is unique… yet a purpose that is universal.
We have a mission to tell others our unique stories about the same God who saved our souls.
Will we be completely loyal to God? Will we humbly serve Him in obedient submission? Will we step into the purpose that He has for us… and LIVE?