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Timothy and Epaphroditus

Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you— and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me. I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy’s worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon. Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me. (Philippians 2:14-30, NRSV)

Have you ever had someone talk you up in a way that made you uncomfortable?

I wonder what Timothy and Epaphroditus thought about what Paul wrote. Did they like it? Did it make them a little concerned at how others might look at them? Did it make them go, “now I’m really not all that…”

But Paul was impressed by and proud of the fellow servants these 2 were and he lifted them up so that others might see them, not to give them glory but to show how we can live in the love that Christ has for all of us. Showing that love to others and helping them as Christ calls us to.

Timothy, Epaphroditus, and Paul gave of themselves so that others would see Christ.

Do we do the same?

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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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Peter and Cornelius

The next day he got up and went with them, and some of the believers from Joppa accompanied him. The following day they came to Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. On Peter’s arrival Cornelius met him, and falling at his feet, worshiped him. But Peter made him get up, saying, “Stand up; I am only a mortal.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?” Cornelius replied, “Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock, I was praying in my house when suddenly a man in dazzling clothes stood before me. He said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon, who is called Peter; he is staying in the home of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’Therefore I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. So now all of us are here in the presence of God to listen to all that the Lord has commanded you to say.” (Acts 10:23b-33, NRSV)

I am not to call any person profane or unclean!

Oh if we could all only get it like Peter does! Peter was a strict follower of the law. He did not eat anything that was unclean and only associated with Jews/Christians. Peter was one who had arguments with Paul about circumcision and other things that the first followers were saying the new Greek converts needed to be doing. Peter knew that Jews could not interact with Gentiles, but here he is a good Jew with Gentiles because God showed him that what God has created is not to be called profane or unclean. That all of creation is good and loved by God.

So what is profane or unclean for you that God would say is a beloved creation?

 
 

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Peter and Cornelius

Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate. They called out to ask whether Simon, who was called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Look, three men are searching for you. Now get up, go down, and go with them without hesitation; for I have sent them.” So Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?” They answered, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” So Peter invited them in and gave them lodging. (Acts 10:17-23a, NRSV)

We find this story hard to take because we have never had God speak to us through angels or through visions. And it seems that people don’t show up at our doors and say that God has sent them.

Still happens. I know of a congregation in Texas where a man walked from California to that congregation and when he arrived walked in and said that God had sent him to be the pastor of that church. And he was the pastor. I am not sure if he still is or not, but it happened…

Why is it hard for us to believe this just because we have not had it happen to us? Can’t we believe on faith?

That is really hard. But really that is what our faith is, hard. Following Jesus is easy and the most difficult thing you will ever do. But know you do not do it alone.

 

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Peter and Cornelius

In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.” He stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” He answered, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.” When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa. About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.”The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven. (Acts 10:1-16, NRSV)

What God has called clean, you must not call profane! And when God made everything, God saw it and said it is good.

Even Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort. Nothing is out of the realm of God.

When we assume it is we judge it based on our own preconceived notions and are not looking with the eyes of God.

What do you call profane, that God would say is good and clean?

 

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Saul Preaches in Damascus

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?”Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah. (Acts 9:19b-22, NRSV)

After Saul regained his sight and his strength he went about telling everyone that Jesus is the son of God. He did a complete 180 from where he was before arresting those that followed Jesus and handing them over to be imprisoned or killed.

Saul was doing all he could to prove that Jesus was the Messiah.

Have you ever done a 180?

Why?

Did God turn your life around?

 

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