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A Christ-like Example

Paul's life and ministry are fascinating, as well as exemplary to us. His singular focus of testifying to the goodness of God's grace, and his desire to finish the race and complete the tasks given to him by Jesus Christ give us a solid model to follow.

The portion of his life that we read about this week parallels that of Jesus. Paul is compelled to go to Jerusalem, knowing that hardships and prison await him. The crowds there are so riled up that they are ready to kill him, wanting him condemned. He is handed over to the Romans.

Yet even as a prisoner, Paul is very respectful towards the Roman authority; he is submissive, diplomatic, and displays amazing integrity. He also maintains his focus on proclaiming the Gospel to whatever audience he finds.

As Paul sails to Rome to appeal his case to Caesar, his ship is caught in a savage storm. Paul displays his leadership skills as he tries to dissuade the centurion from continuing. He guides them with advice about how to save lives, encourages them to nourish themselves, leads by example, helps gather firewood, calmly deals with a viper, and heals the sick. Paul is granted much favor by his guards as he proceeds to Rome.

As we transition into the book of Ephesians, Paul uses familiar references to buildings and to the body to help the believers understand God's plan for His church. We often say that the Church is not brick and mortar; the Church is made of flesh and bone, of the lives of true believers. In other words, we are the Church.

Starting in chapter two, Paul reminds the Ephesians that at one point they were separate from Christ, without hope and without God, but they have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Gentiles, together with the chosen nation of Israel, have become members of God's household. This house is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone." (Eph. 2:20) The whole building -- our living, breathing church -- is joined together in Christ and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

From here, Paul moves from the imagery of a building to the analogy of the body. In Ephesians 4:15, Paul says that Christ is the head, and that we, the Church, will grow in every respect to become the mature body of Christ. We each have our own place within that body. Some of us are more visible than others; some of us provide strength to the body like muscles; some provide support to the body, like bones; some provide cohesion, holding the body together like supporting ligaments; others have less visible but no less important roles in helping the body mature and move in ways that bring glory to our Lord.

In the remainder of Ephesians, Paul shows us practical ways to lead Christian lives. He teaches us how to mature, relate to others, and use the armor of God to be strong and mighty in His power. These lessons are powerful not only because they are full of God's Truth, but because they are lessons we have seen Paul live out firsthand, all for the glory of God.

What a mighty example we have in Paul. His life and his ministry truly helped build the foundation of today's church. May he encourage us all to follow Christ, whatever the cost, to seek and embrace our place in the body of Christ, and to spread the Gospel, wherever God leads us.

~ Lori Voss

December 2nd Readings
ACTS 20:13-21:36

December 3rd Readings
ACTS 21:37-23:35

December 4th Readings
ACTS 24:1-26:32

December 5th Readings
ACTS 27:1-44

December 6th Readings
ACTS 28:1-31
EPHESIANS 1:1-2:22

December 7th Readings
EPHESIANS 3:1-5:14

December 8th Readings
EPHESIANS 5:15-6:24