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Yesterday, we began to see how Paul, like Joseph, served God in whatever circumstances he found himself.
While Paul was in imprisoned in Rome, he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Each of these letters is a manifestation of Paul’s love for others as he sought to teach, encourage and correct even when he was is dire circumstances. Today we will briefly learn from the last two of his prison epistles, how we can also love others, not matter what.
Written from his house arrest in Rome, probably around A.D.62. Paul seeks to give this church a massive vision of Jesus; He is supreme ruler and restorer of all things seen and unseen. The gospel reconciles us to God and will transform every part of our lives to His likeness.
‘The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:15-17).
RESPONSE - When counselling a friend or someone who is finding life hard, do we, with wisdom, seek to show them who Jesus is? A vision of the glory and love of Jesus is the true antidote to despair. If He is on the throne, over all powers, and if He is for us, this brings true hope to any situation. Paul never seeks to encourage and correct outside of the context of who Jesus is.
Again, from the same Roman imprisonment, Paul writes this personal letter to Philemon, a wealthy Christian, to safeguard a returning, now converted, run-away slave. In a world that often treated slaves a property rather than people, Paul’s Christian world-view treated all people as brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul wrote,
‘Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.’ (Philemon 1:15-16)
RESPONSE - In this season of difficulty, are we defending the cause of others? Who has God put on your heart to speak up for? Now, in speaking up, do notice that Paul is very canny, shrewd and gentle in how he speaks. Don’t be a ‘bull in a china-shop’!
Finally, on his way to this improvement in Rome, Paul suffers a great storm and shipwreck. In the midst of the storm, Paul tells the crew,
‘Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.’ (Acts 27:23-25)
God’s people, if they will listen, can hear His voice and know His presence in any storm. He enables us to be less self-centred and overflow with kindness and encouragement. May you and I be such people in this storm.
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY – DREAMERS SERVE GOD WHEREVER THEY ARE
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News
Whose service to God has most impressed you and why?
Introduction - please read in your group
Please read Read Genesis 39:2-4
On Sunday our message was entitled, ‘Dreamers serve God wherever they are’.
Joseph had to wait around 13 years for his dreams from God to come to pass. In the meantime, even in dire circumstances, he served diligently. He wasn't to realise that it was through his faithful service, as he interpreted the dream of the cupbearer to the king, that he was to enter into the fulfilment of God's will for him.
Discuss together (Before getting into smaller groups)
Please read Colossians 3:23
What does it mean to 'work with all our heart as if for the Lord'? And how can we do this in our lives?
Discuss/share/pray in smaller groups:
What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about (maybe from Sunday's message)?
What will you do in response?
How can we pray for you?