This week in the Scripture Reading Plan, we are reading through Paul’s letters to the Colossians and the Thessalonians. If you’ve been reading with us, I would like to encourage you to set aside some time this week to read each of these letters all the way through — after all, that’s how letters are intended to be read anyway.
If our Lord was simply an almighty King sitting on his sovereign throne commanding us as his subjects to serve and to suffer for his sake then that sort of call would certainly feel like a burdensome mandate that we were forced and obligated to carry out. That is why the apostle Paul takes time to point out the proper motivation for Christian suffering by providing the beautiful portrait of Christ’s own sacrifice for our salvation.
As those who have been freely forgiven by the grace of God through the work of Christ, and as those who have put on the new self that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, we ought to be seen by the world around us as a new kind of humanity that is created after the likeness of Christ himself.
Although completely overlooked in our daily rush through life and drastically underestimated in comparison to our modern capabilities, the greatest thing that we will ever do in our lifetime is to pray. That is not simply a Christian overstatement in order to please God or to sound super-spiritual. If we stopped for just a moment and seriously considered what prayer actually is then we would shutter in humility at how often we take this great privilege for granted.
True love for our brothers and sisters in Christ will sometimes require confrontation. In addressing certain patterns of sinful behavior evident among the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul decided to make a “painful visit” to Corinth in order show tough love and speak hard truth that might wake up the Corinthians to an understanding of what was wrong with their actions.
It’s apparent that some of the Corinthian Christians were dividing the church over disagreements concerning spiritual gifts (God-given abilities meant for the edifying of God’s people). There was so much emphasis and esteem being placed on certain gifts that those who seemed to be lacking these certain gifts were beginning to feel as if they were missing a vital aspect of what it means to be a Christian.
An identifying marker of the church ought to be the way in which we stand firm as one united group of people no matter our nationality, race, age, gender or social status. We ought to be a people of one spirit with a shared mind striving side by side to build one another up and to bring more of God’s rule here on earth.
John Piper has declared Romans 3:21-26 as the most important paragraph written in the entire Bible. And some biblical scholars have even labeled Romans 3:21-26 as possibly the most important single paragraph ever written in the history of literature. It is in this profound paragraph, that the apostle Paul reminds his readers of the amazing grace of God and the incredible hope that he has given humanity.
The governing authorities in charge of Paul's trial are at a loss on what to do with him. He's an honest man who has been an upstanding citizen and has shown great respect for the governing authorities over him during his imprisonment. Despite the sentence of condemnation against him and the petition from the religious leaders that Paul deserved to die, those in charge of officially examining his life decided that he had "done nothing deserving of death."
In our Lord’s regenerating work in the life of the apostle Paul, he prophesied that Paul would be his chosen instrument who would carry the Lord’s name and message before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem and the trials that followed proved these prophetic words to be true.
As the apostle Paul makes his way to Jerusalem, we notice at every stop along the way Paul “sought out the disciples” in each city that he visited. It is a wise Christian principle and practice to seek out the Christians already present in all the new places that we may find ourselves visiting or relocating to.
What compelled Paul and Silas who had been stripped, beaten and thrown into jail to not escape at this moment of opportunity? All the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened and yet these two men decide to stay in the cell?
Paul preaches the gospel in Antioch, Iconium and then Lystra but runs into fierce opposition from some unbelieving Jews along the way. Their opposition was so intense that they end up following Paul to Lystra and drag him outside the city to crush his skull with stones. Paul is left for dead. He is so beaten and battered that the Jews assumed he was dead.
One of the original disciples of Jesus had just been executed by the same man who proceeded to arrest Peter with the intent on executing him in front of all of Jerusalem. Peter was the prominent leader of the early church and now the church needed to do something quick to rescue their great brother and leader. So what’s the first action they decide to take?
I can hardly comprehend the level of love that it takes to pray for your enemies while you are suffering a brutal death at the hands of those same enemies. The way in which Stephen handles himself during his violent and unjust execution is awe-inspiring and on a whole nother level.