Today's Bible Readings
     Genesis 39
     Job 5
     Mark 9
     Romans 9
''For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh."
(Romans 9:3)
            Our verse today is part of an opening statement by Paul in one of the most controversial chapters in the entire Bible. Romans 9 strongly emphasizes the sovereignty of God and His absolute control of the affairs of men. Many Bible interpreters want to use this chapter to say that man no longer has any volition at all, but is like a robot or puppet under the control of a sovereign God. They go so far as to say that God has created some for heaven and some for hell. This is not the teaching of the chapter but it does present the sovereignty of God in choosing some for a specific service based upon his foreknowledge of who they are and how they will respond. The opening words of the chapter present the most phenomenal statement concerning compassion ever written.  It is here that we get a glimpse of the heart of the apostle Paul like nowhere else in the Scripture.
            Paul reveals his sincere conviction. In verse one he shares a three-fold declaration that he is telling the truth.  He does this because what he is about to say sounds unbelievable.
            Paul also presents the sorrow that continues in his heart.  This great apostle of God is telling us that his burden   does not come and go. He lives with this broken heart continually.
            Then Paul declares his sacrificial concern. We might say, ''I would be willing to give up my possessions to see lost people come to Christ." Has it occurred to you what Paul is saying to you in this verse? He is announcing, ''If necessary, and if it were possible, I am willing to go to hell that my fellow countrymen might go to heaven."  It is certain that if a man believed that all humanity were predestined for either hell or heaven he would not have this kind of burden. This raises the question for us - what are we willing to sacrifice for souls? It also raises another question for us.  Have the men of God like Paul and the fearless prophets and preachers of the gospel who have been martyred for their faith wasted their sacrifice?  Do we have any today with this kind of commitment?
            Paul spent his life for only one purpose - that he might win people to Jesus Christ for the glory of God. Paul always attracted people to his Lord but never to himself. He said, ''I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some." (I Corinthians 9:22)  If we are told to surrender to Jesus, we have no goals of our own to serve. Paul said he knew how to be a ''door mat'' without resenting it, because the motivation of his life was devotion to Jesus. Romans 9:3 is not an overstatement. Had Paul lost his ability to reason? Not at all! For someone who is in love, this is not an overstatement and Paul was in love with Jesus Christ. Are you? Are you willing to be a ''door mat'' in order for souls to come to Christ?
In 1980, the church I pastored in Louisiana was involved in a partnership evangelism practice with the churches of the Commonwealth of Dominica. This is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. Because of the consistency of light rain, there were flowers blooming everywhere. Though the scenery was beautiful, there was great poverty and a tremendous spiritual need in the churches and among God's people. Although the Island of Dominica only has a little more than 70,000 people, it is divided between many denominations led by Roman Catholicism with approximately half the population.  We were involved in leadership training, dental clinics, medical ministry, and literature distribution over a period of two years. We realized that if the island was to be reached for Christ, we had to have participation of the Catholic Church and a central location for an evangelistic campaign. We chose the movie theater in the main city, and the building was packed to capacity every night. Scores of people came to Christ, and the island was left with a unity among the churches toward winning people to Christ that had not existed before. Please pray that this same kind of unity and commitment can be the norm rather than the exception on the Island of Dominica.
''Give me children or else I die."