Daily Readings/ Editorial
Scriptures to be read before the sermon on Sunday, August 28:
Monday: Acts 9:1-9
Tuesday: Acts 9:10-19
Wednesday: Acts 9:19-30
Thursday: Acts 22:2-16
Friday: Acts 25:23-26:11
Saturday: Acts 26:12-23
“Thinking Through Paul”
“What made Paul tick?” Drs. Bruce Longenecker and Todd Still ask this question at the beginning of their book, Thinking Through Paul – A Survey of His Life, Letters and Theology. They believe that Paul’s own encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus was itself life-changing and set in motion a series of exciting and challenging events in his life.
Paul was born in Tarsus to Jewish parents who gave him the name Saul (at some point, he was also called by the Roman name – Paul). He was a zealous follower of the Lord God of Israel and became a Pharisee (Jewish sect which was taught strict observance of written and oral law). He studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law (Acts 22:3). When the church began to convert faithful Jews, Paul tried to do all he could to oppose them (I Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13, Philippians 3:6). However, Jesus stopped him on his was to persecute Christians in Damascus.
Soon afterward, Paul also became a Christian. He traveled throughout the Eastern Mediterranean world helping others come to know Christ as well. On his journeys, he experienced some incredibly challenging situations which he writes about in II Corinthians 11:23-27: “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, from bandits, from my own people, from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 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.”
Drs. Longenecker and Still ask, “What drove him on, despite obstacles of this magnitude? Why did he put up with experiences that would have caused most of us to lose heart? What enabled him to withstand these kinds of things and still press on?” Paul offers his readers an answer to those questions. He pressed on out of concern for all the churches (II Corinthians 11:28). He was compelled by the love of Christ (II Corinthians 5:14); or, as he says elsewhere, because the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). That answer may be simple, but not simplistic. Paul spent more than 30 years of his life living out what those words meant to him and what he hoped they would mean to others who came to believe that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and also Lord of life.
Please consider joining us this coming Sunday, August 28, as we begin our new series – Thinking Through Paul. Though the series will have that title, Paul would be the first to say that he is not the object to be studied but a catalyst to stir our own thoughts about how to follow Jesus.