Our Brother Paul
Welcome to a gathering of the Church in Aquila and Prisca’s home.
We are excited to hear from our brother Paul as he is here and going to share about his recent journeys. We are tantalized by the odors coming from the baking
khubz (Jewish pita bread) that we will enjoy after the teaching and sharing time.
I look around the group of believers gathered in my imagination, and am filled with gratitude to God for their courage and love for the Messiah. Many of them have suffered greatly for their faith. Many know of some that have given in and burnt the worship incense to the Roman gods. Some from this group have been martyred, finishing their earthly journey.
As we listen to our brother share, it is interesting to notice that Paul uses the words for gratitude ~thanks, thank, thanksgiving, thanksgivings, thankful, thanked~ 49 times in his letters. He valued gratitude.
Take the Resurrection Chapter of I Corinthians 15 where Paul shows that without the Lord Jesus rising from the dead, we are of all men most miserable. Here, Paul gives thanks to God who gives us the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:57). Or how about Romans 7:25 where Paul has been describing the struggle over who will deliver us from this body of death and cries out the solution: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Paul was thankful for people, and told them so. He was careful to express his thanks to God for these individuals and clusters of believers in the letters he wrote:
- Romans 1:8 – First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.
- I Corinthians 1:4 – I always thank my God for you because of the grace He has given you in Christ Jesus.
- Ephesians 1:16 – I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers
- Philippians 1:3 – I thank my God every time I remember you.
- Colossians 1:3 – We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
- 1 Thessalonians 1:2 – We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers
- 2 Thessalonians 1:3 – We are obligated to thank God for you all the time, brothers, as is fitting, because your faith is growing more and more, and your love for one another is increasing.
- Philemon 1:4 – I always thank my God, making mention of you in my prayers
He showed by example how we are to not only think the thanks, but also express the thanks – first to God and then to other people.
Am I Th(i)nkful Like Paul?
Not so sure how I am doing on this issue. I need to be more intentional. I want to think and express my thanks to God first, and then to others for their faithful walk in the Lord. What an encouragement it is to remember the godly examples of others who have gone before us or even others walking life right beside us here and now. Paul’s example is a guide.
Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians
Way back in 2010 our family got together in a cabin in PA. Our youngest daughter had not even started university yet. We were meeting ‘significant others’ and the grand-babies were starting to arrive.
The Sunday morning that we were there, we studied together one of Paul’s prayers. A few months earlier David had gotten all the guys to volunteer to give a talk about a portion of Colossians 1:9-14. They each taught us a piece of this important prayer that Paul offered up for the believers at Colossae. That is a very precious memory to me.
Here is Colossians 1:9-14:
9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Paul is challenging the readers by sharing his prayer for them. He is praying for their maturity and growth in the Lord, and for fruitfulness and long-suffering. He ends by praying for them to give thanks to the Father who has delivered them and qualified them for an amazing inheritance.
Thanks, Brother Paul
So as we leave Aquila’s home in our imagination and head out into the world, whether it be Africa, Asia, Europe, America, Australia, or New Zealand … or wherever you go, let’s follow Paul’s admonition. Let’s think thanks and give thanks to our Father first, and then be a bit more intentional in expressing our thanks to others for who they are and what they’ve done.
Who comes to mind that you give thanks to God for in your life? What about them are you thankful for?
Have you shared that with them lately?