“40 Days and 40 Nights of God’s Word”
DAY 37: AUGUST 28
2 CORINTHIANS 1 – COLOSSIANS 4:18
As I’ve mentioned numerous times in these reflections and elsewhere, the read-through was called to get you immersed in God’s Word. It wasn’t meant to be a Bible study or a close reading of any particular part of scripture. The purpose was to get the Good Book into your hands and God’s Word into you. What you chose then to chew on was between you and God.
(Whatever jumps out at you during the readings is what God wants you to chew on.)
I hadn’t planned on writing a daily reflection after each reading. That just kind of evolved. I thought it would be a good idea to give a wave every day to say “Here I am! I’m reading along with you”. So, here I am. 😀
It’s highly likely that what jumps out at me doesn’t jump out at you, and what I chew on isn’t always to your taste. I don’t know how many souls have joined in the read-through or if I’ve just been doing this by myself, but it doesn’t matter. What you choose to do or not to do is between you and God.
Here’s the thing about God – when he asks you to do something, he asks YOU, and you only are responsible for saying “yes” or “no” (insider’s tip – always say “yes”). So I put out the invitation for the Bible read-through because God asked me to, and I’m doing the read-through because God invited me to, and I’m doing the reflections because they just kind of happened and took on a life of their own, and here we all are.
But what you choose to do or not to do is between you and God. Our free will is inviolable, no matter what anyone tells you. Even God won’t override it unless we give him permission. Imagine that! The Creator of Heaven and Earth needs your permission to override your free will. If even God needs your permission to override your free will, who possibly on Earth can override it?
Of course the answer is no-one. If you want to do God’s will or not to do God’s will, it’s up to you. It’s between you and God. Don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
- Today’s reading takes us deeper into Paul’s letters. I like Paul. If I make it to Heaven, I’m looking forward to sitting down with him and having a drink. I don’t drink anymore on Earth, but I have a feeling I’m going to be having a few in Heaven (no hangovers in Heaven!) with all the visits I’ll be making and all the visitors who’ll have a standing invitation to drop by my place any time.
- Being in Heaven won’t be a problem (again, no hangovers!), but getting there takes some doing. Paul talks about everything we (might) have to endure to get to there. He even makes a list of sorts. For instance, in 2 Colossians 4:8-9, he says of believers in general:
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair’
Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.
Then later in 11:24-27, he details his own experiences:
Of the Jews received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice I was beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered a shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep.
In journeyings often, in perils of water, in perils of robbers, in perils of mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
- Paul went through all this (with worse to come), and yet it only made him more adamant to give everything he had to God and more committed to preaching the Word. Why is that? Why didn’t he give up after the first shipwreck or beating with rods? Most people would have. But Paul didn’t give up for the same reason that Jesus didn’t give up or any of the others didn’t give up – because God was always with Paul, no matter his circumstances, and God (not Paul) was the source of Paul’s strength. Rather than make him angry or resentful or self-pitying, each trial entrenched him deeper into God.
- We need to learn from Paul’s trials and how he dealt with them. I’m not sure if we’ll have to endure the same level of persecution as he did, but we’ll certainly face persecution and we’ll be forced to live as outlaws. Jesus warned us it would be like that. At the same time, he also said he’d be with us the whole time – he and God, through God’s Holy Spirit. And that’s how we’re going to get through our trials like Paul got through his.
- There’s a wonderful passage in the same letter about what is expected of us as ministers of God. It’s another list of attributes we’re expected to have. See which ones you have and which ones you need to work on. Remember, if you’re born-again, you should be actively preaching and teaching the Word, or preparing to do so. There are no seat-warmers in the Kingdom of Heaven!
Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed:
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.Colossians 6:3-10
- A few other passages jumped out at me in Colossians. One of them was about Moses, and how he always unveiled in face before God. I wrote a blog about this last year, about how we should never cover our face before God, and that we’re always before God if we’re genuinely born-again. This directive is inviolable. That means, no-one can override it, not for any reason.
- In Galatians, Paul spends most of his letter talking about the dead-end factor of the works of the law. Remember that he’s talking about the laws that I call fly-over scripture, not the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are definitely not dead works. Paul finds himself arguing again with people who want to hang onto the dead works (like circumcision) instead of leaving them dead and buried, where they belong. Yet again, he argues for the primacy of faith over works of the law, but he still reminds us that we’ll someday have to stand before the Judgement seat to give an account of all we did or did not do in the service of God. Those works count; the works of the law no longer do.
- Paul’s letters to the Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians are a compilation of sorts of his teachings on how to follow Jesus. One line in particular jumped out at me today:
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.Colossians 3:23
- It’s a reminder that whatever we do, God sees us. It doesn’t matter if anyone else acknowledges us or not, appreciates our efforts or not: God does. Jesus tells us to do our prayers and alms in secret, and that God will see us and reward us openly. Paul echoes this in saying to do everything as if unto God. Do it to the best of your ability. Do it with a cheerful heart. And do it knowing that if no-one else cares or even sees, God does. And surely that’s enough.
As we wind down (or power up, however you’re seeing this) to the final few readings, I hope you know that God is reading to you (if you ask him), opening your understanding and highlighting what you need to see and learn for your trials ahead. Our trials may or may not be as spectacular as Paul’s, but we still need to face them as he did, knowing God is ALWAYS with us to bring us through. That’s his job. That’s what he promised: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
And God never breaks a promise.
The schedule for the BIBLE READ-THROUGH is directly below.