Scripture: Read Colossians 2:16-23 so that you can explain it to someone.

Woven into Paul’s heart for you is this word, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” His theology of “let no one pass judgment on you in questions of…” has blood equity behind it.

Paul and Barnabas started a firestorm in the Jewish synagogue of Pisidian Antioch with this radical message of Jesus as the Messiah and fulfiller of the Law. With many Jews and God-fearers turning to Christ, there arose violent opposition that first evicted the apostles from the synagogue and later stirred up the entire city to persecute them and drive them out of the city (Acts 13:45,50).

They proceeded to the synagogue at Iconium with the same reaction: radical new believers and radical disbelievers. Yes, the gospel was good news for those who could accept it, but it had the effect of dismantling the whole status and influence of the Jewish community. Their response: a plan to stone the messengers. Providentially they caught wind of the plan and left, ending up in Lystra.

Luke then tells us that a band of angry Jews that had dogged the apostles was successful in stirring up the whole city of Lystra so that they dragged Paul outside and stoned him, leaving him for dead (Acts 14:19). I have to wonder if this was the occasion Paul has in mind when he said, “I know a man…who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows— such a man was caught up to the third heaven.” There in Paradise he heard inexpressible words that a man is not permitted to speak (2 Cor. 12:2,4).

I am guessing that the disciples laid hands on Paul with the result that he “got up and entered the city” (Acts 14:20). Talk about courage! Then Paul and Barnabas retraced their steps to the very cities where they had been so violently threatened.

Thought Questions:

1. How does reading about Paul’s sufferings affect you? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. How have you had to pay a price in order to be different from former friends? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Are you able to rejoice when it costs you to serve God? ________________________________________________

4. What does God promise to those who suffer for Him? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer Time:

• Spend some moments thanking God for those who have suffered in order for you to be saved?

• Count it a joy to serve God in whatever circumstances you are in right now (Jam. 1:2).

• Ask Jesus to use you to help others find eternal life. Pray for the bold witness of your brothers and sisters where they work today.

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