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Partnership in the Gospel

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but that by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. Since I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in faith, so that I may share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. For he has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Philippians 1:18b-30, NRSV)

What would you say if I told you that some scholars think that Paul was contemplating suicide here? is really the

This part, ” I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.” Paul is talking about wanting to depart to be with Chris because that is really the place we as Christians should want to be. But Paul knows that the Philippians and others need him here to help them grow as disciples. Actually, this is good news for all of us. Aren’t there times you wish you weren’t where you are? And this is Paul. Paul knows that Christ needs him where He put him. We all have a part to play, and all of those parts are important.

So live your life as Christ called you to and be a beacon of His hope in the world.

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Paul Preaches in Rome

After they had set a day to meet with him, they came to him at his lodgings in great numbers. From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets.Some were convinced by what he had said, while others refused to believe. So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving, Paul made one further statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, ‘Go to this people and say, You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.’ Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, (Acts 28:23-30, NRSV)

Why do some hear and not hear, listen and really don’t get the message?

Sometimes we feel like we need to make everyone understand how much God loves them. But see here in this reading, Paul, one of the greatest evangelists in history didn’t convince everyone after he spoke to them all day. Making people believe is not our job. We are to go and share our story which shares the love of God.

So don’t feel like you have to make anyone believe.  You just need to share your story and show people how God is active in your life and can be in theirs.

 

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Paul Arrested in the Temple

When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, who had seen him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd. They seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. Then all the city was aroused, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the doors were shut. While they were trying to kill him, word came to the tribune of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. Immediately he took soldiers and centurions and ran down to them. When they saw the tribune and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul.Then the tribune came, arrested him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains; he inquired who he was and what he had done. Some in the crowd shouted one thing, some another; and as he could not learn the facts because of the uproar, he ordered him to be brought into the barracks. When Paul came to the steps, the violence of the mob was so great that he had to be carried by the soldiers. The crowd that followed kept shouting, “Away with him!” (Acts 21:27-36, NRSV)

Isn’t it interesting how the people rebel against what they had been taught is right and proper?

But don’t we all do this?

Maybe not to the point of becoming an angry mob and beating the one with the new idea, but we are all protective of the way we learned something when someone comes and says something opposite of what we learned. This is particularly true when it comes to our faith.

Jonah was swallowed by a _______? I am sure most of you said whale. Because we learned in Sunday School that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. But the Bible doesn’t say whale, it says a big fish. So it might not have been a whale.

And we will fight against this. and this statement doesn’t even affect our salvation! We are all quick to beat down what is different than us. But really the only way for us to evangelize is to know the other and to know another we have to listen to them.

So don’t push something away because it is different. You may just learn something and maybe share something in the process.

 

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Paul in Ephesus

Ephesus: Road to Library

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Then he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They answered, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied— altogether there were about twelve of them. He entered the synagogue and for three months spoke out boldly, and argued persuasively about the kingdom of God. When some stubbornly refused to believe and spoke evil of the Way before the congregation, he left them, taking the disciples with him, and argued daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord. (Acts 19:1-10, NRSV)

Paul continued his journey through the land and spreading the word about Jesus as he went. Anyone who was receptive to the message he would share with them. Paul did not force his opinions or views on anyone even though he knew the message he was sharing was one that would save all who would hear and accept it. When he was met with opposition rather than argue, he would move on.

Do we do this?

Or do we want to be right?

Maybe the best thing to do is move along when we do not agree. Rather than trying to make others see our point of view and force our way, what if we did what Jesus said, shake the dust off and move along. Jesus is the one who brings change, we get to bring the message of love, but if it is not heard, forcing love won’t work.

So what will we do?

 

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Paul in Corinth

Corinth: street

After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers.Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus. When they opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Then he left the synagogue and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God; his house was next door to the synagogue.Crispus, the official of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul became believers and were baptized. One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” He stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal. They said, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law.”Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of crime or serious villainy, I would be justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I do not wish to be a judge of these matters.” And he dismissed them from the tribunal. Then all of them seized Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things. (Acts 18:1-17, NRSV)

Paul went where he could share the message of Jesus. And he would give it to whoever would listen. So when he met a Jew who had come from Rome and was living in Corinth and they shared the same occupation, he went with him to the temple. He told them that Jesus was the Messiah they were waiting for. And when they wouldn’t listen, Paul shook the dust off his clothes and left. He went to those who would listen.

And even then people stirred up trouble for Paul.

But in the face of everything Paul stood firm in his proclamation because he knew that God was with him,

Are you ready to walk the walk and go when God tells you, knowing He will always be with you?

 

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The Conversion of Lydia

We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days. On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there. A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:11-15, NRSV)

Did you see what happened here?

Paul went where God was leading him and shared what had happened to him and how he had met Jesus and all that Jesus did for the entire world. And when they shared the message that God sent them with, people would listen and hear and God opened the hearts of those listening and they heard the message of love.

That is what God is asking all of us to do. To go where He leads us, and share His Story with all the world. And then let Him work on the hearts of those who listen.

Are you ready to go?

 

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The Council at Jerusalem

The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, “My brothers, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up, so that all other peoples may seek the Lord— even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.’ Therefore I have reached the decision that we should not trouble those Gentiles who are turning to God, but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood. For in every city, for generations past, Moses has had those who proclaim him, for he has been read aloud every sabbath in the synagogues.” (Acts 15:12-21, NRSV)

Once we hear about the many wonders the Gentiles are doing then we know that God has given them the Spirit. And so they do not need to uphold all of the law of Moses, but we should write to them to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood.

Again we do not all have to be the same, and follow the same guidelines, but we have to follow the same Lord. Who calls us all from different places in different ways to be who we are a gift to the body of Christ!

 

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