Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 1:12-24, 2:1-11 (day six)
“…we work with you for your joy,” 2 Corinthians 1:24
It is comforting to think the heart of Paul’s intent was their joy. Those are the kinds of words a father says to a son (“I’m doing this for your good.”), and no less true. Paul could not coerce them into faithfulness; he didn’t desire to lord it over their faith. No, there was a whole lot of love involved in his tough love. It’s the kind of love that steps in when everyone else moves to the other side of the road. It’s the kind of love that speaks up when everyone else stays silent. Paul was doing a good work for the Corinthian church, a work for their joy. And although sorrow may have lasted for the night, I’m sure the Corinthians discovered that joy came in the morning.
Do you have a friend like that? Are you a friend like that? It’s the things discipleship is made of. It’s good work.
Re:Verse reading–Acts 17:10-12, 16-34 (day six)
And Paul went in, as was his custom… Acts 17:2
A custom is “something that is done regularly by a person.” (Merriam-Webster) In Paul’s case he had gospel customs, or missionary customs; things he did regularly to introduce others to the person and work of Jesus. When he would come to a new city or town, he would always go to synagogue first (if the city had one) to teach his fellow Jews about Jesus. Only after spending time with his brethren would he then turn his attention to the gentiles in the city, searching for people of peace (those open and responsive to the Gospel) in the marketplace and “spiritual” places.
Certainly, there is much to learn from Paul’s customs, but will you first consider with me one thing? Right now, what are your Gospel customs? Do you have any? Should you? Should we as a church family? Sorry, that is way more than one thing, but it is well worth our while to consider such things.
Re:Verse reading—Acts 16:11-34 (day three)
“The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Jesus said that his Father is always working. He also said he had “other sheep that are not of this sheep pen” and that “they too will listen to my voice.” Just as with Lydia, who was already seeking the truth and had become convinced that God was where truth would come from if it would come, God is engaging people in ways that we do not know. God has granted human beings a great deal of power—more than we probably realize—and we can employ that power to cultivate and nurture his work if we want. We would be surprised to see the extent of God’s work in the world, but then again, our surprise might indicate how little we’ve been expecting it. So, what can you nurture today?
Re:Verse reading–Acts 13:1-52 (day six)
Does the Holy Spirit still work this way? Prophets and teachers prayed, fasted, and then the Holy Spirit told them to set apart Barnabas and Paul for a particular task. It begs a lot of questions for us doesn’t it?
- Is God’s call primarily a personal conviction first and affirmed by the greater Christian community second, or should it actually work the other way around?
- When we pray are we even asking the right questions?
- What of fasting to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit?
- Are there Paul and Barnabas’ among us, and we simply aren’t listening? Or do we lack the filling of the Spirit?
I can say with certainty, the Holy Spirit hasn’t changed, we have. My conviction is that there are a few among the FBCSA that should be set apart to a particular task, but we may never know if we don’t start asking God to reveal to us who they are. Shouldn’t we pray together? Maybe even fast?
Re:Verse reading–2 Corinthians 5:11-21 (day six)
“…that we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
This is startling. This is the work of Jesus; he became “as if” he were our sin, so that we could become His righteousness. We have never known righteousness of our own, in the same way that Jesus never knew unrighteousness of His own. This is precisely what captivated Paul; he called it treasure. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels,” Jesus, the righteousness of God.
Does that good news startle you? Is it your treasure? What a worthwhile daily prayer:
Father, may I be totally and completely captivated by your Son, my righteousness.
Now pray it with me!
Re:Verse reading–Romans 13 (day six)
Paul sums up his teaching in Romans 13 by admonishing us to “put on Jesus.” Regardless of who is in authority over us, or the type of government, we are simply to be like Jesus. Whether we face justice or injustice, we are to be like Jesus. We are to live for another Kingdom altogether, under the authority of one who is greater than all earthly rulers. This, of course, means that often we look otherworldly in how we conduct our lives. That’s just it, Paul is far more concerned with our righteousness than he is about the state of our government. He is far more concerned with the state of the Church, than the state of the Union. Romans 13 reminds us that God has all the kingdoms of earth in the palm of his hand; we need not worry, we simply need to pursue one thing, to “put on Jesus.” Will you?
Re:Verse passage: Romans 12 (day six)
Coming out of Romans 1-11, it only makes sense that we would yield all of who we are in worship to such a big and glorious God. He defies comprehension! He literally sustains the universe and all human history by His word! So when we are reminded of what Jesus said to His disciples, “If you lose your life for my namesake, you shall find it,” it really is not to much to ask. Indeed it makes perfect sense.
And out of a life yielded to God comes the Gospel kind of life. We see the world with new eyes. We perceive the ways of God. We reap the reward of having the Holy Spirit active in our life. We lay down our own life, so that we might take it up again-just like Jesus!
Re:Verse reading–Romans 9:1-8, Romans 10:1-21 (day six)
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36
Paul introduces to the Romans (and to us) an immense God in chapters 9-11. Up to this point we have certainly encountered a God worthy of all our affections and thanks, but it is in these latter chapters that we begin to scratch at His immensity. All of salvation history is in His hands; Israel, the Gentiles, all moving towards a glorious end in the Gospel.
As he contemplates the eternal destiny of his brethren, Paul is overwhelmed by God’s glory displayed in His sovereignty. It is as if Paul wants us to feel just how small we really are; in fact,inspired by the Spirit of God,that is exactly how he would have us feel. This feeling is the beginning of wisdom…and worship.
Re:Verse reading–Romans 8:18-39 (day four)
It is one of the greatest passages of hope in the Bible…Romans 8:38-39. “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man. All things have been created by Him, therefore, there is nothing that is stronger or more powerful than Him. By faith, Christ has come to dwell in our hearts in the form of the Holy Spirit. Nothing can take us away from His indwelling. He will always be with us throughout eternity. Paul was a man of unshakable confidence in our eternal position in God. How about us? Do we live our lives with unshakable confidence that we will always be with God in eternity?
Re:Verse reading–Romans 8:18-39 (day three)
“The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay.” God has placed creation at the mercy of man (“subjected it to futility” is how Paul puts it). We are to steward this creation. We have the power to do so, and that power is indeed great. We begin to see how great when we read that all of creation–all of it–is in the throes of decay. That’s our doing. In our sinfulness, we corrupt everything we touch. The sheer scale of the ruin we have visited on this universe–ruin of spirit, body, society, nature–is staggering. But God has given a hope-filled promise concerning all of creation–that he will liberate it as he makes all things new. Do you treat spirit, body, society, and nature as if you are now part of God’s liberation?