Today’s reading of The Story is found on page 407 and ends on page 411 with the words, “they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.” You can also read in your bible in Acts 13:1-6, 27-33,38-39, 42-52; 14:1-18
I’m not certain I would have made a great first century Christian! I’m pretty well convinced, that I could NOT have replaced Paul as the missionary to the Gentiles. When Paul enumerates the struggles he faced being a Christian missionary I stand in awe of his life, sacrifice, faith, and steadfastness. Here’s what I mean:
Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 (NIV)
Would you have made it through all of that? Even if you’re not Paul, just being a first century Christian publicly confessing Jesus Christ, Risen from the dead, was to put your life on the line. Yet, “somehow” Paul made it through it all, and so did the “first Christians” and that “HOW” Paul confess too:
1 Corinthians 15:10-11 (NIV) 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
He attributes his accomplishments and faith to the grace of God.
“Amazing grace that saved a wretch like me!” Those are not Paul’s words, even though they sound like him. They are the words of John Newton, a slave ship captain, who later, “by the amazing grace of God,” came to believe, and like Paul, he spent the remainder of his life in service to Christ and His church.
What is this thing called grace and why is it so amazing?
Romans 5:15 (NIV) But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
Grace is not a “thing,” grace is a person who came into our world in the person of Christ.
John 1:14 (NIV) The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:16 (NIV) From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.
Grace makes those who receive it, RICH before God.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Grace makes life livable, in the day-to-day and in impossible situations and circumstances.
WE PRAISE, YOU, God our Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion, and the God of all comfort and grace, for YOU comfort us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from You. And just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. Make your grace abound to us, O God, that we may in all things, at all times, having all that we need, we may abound in every good work by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus’ name alone. Amen.