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The apostle Paul: welcomed at first as if he were an angel

December 18, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Galatians 4:12-15

12 I beg you to be like me, brothers and sisters, because I have become like you! You haven’t wronged me. 13 You know that I first preached the gospel to you because of an illness. 14 Though my poor health burdened you, you didn’t look down on me or reject me, but you welcomed me as if I were an angel from God, or as if I were Christ Jesus! 15 Where then is the great attitude that you had? I swear that, if possible, you would have dug out your eyes and given them to me.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul’s letters contain many eye-catching personal notes, along with their deep spiritual insights. Today’s passage reflected the apostle’s pain and confusion as converts from his work in the Roman province of Galatia seemed to be turning against him because other teachers had denied his message. “Receiving someone as an angel of God showed enormous respect.” * He arrived in their cities as a stranger, yet his message quickly won their respect. Now that had changed.

  • “So, [Paul] asks, what has gone wrong? What happened to that blessing, that wonderful state of opening their hearts and lives to the word and power of the gospel, and finding it transform them from within? At the time they would have done anything for him (to speak of ‘plucking out your eyes for someone’ was a regular way of saying ‘I would do anything for you’).” ** Ephesians 4:12-16 said we shouldn’t “be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes.” How can you be firm (yet not rigid) in your convictions?
  • One reasonable guess among Bible students about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9) is that it might have been poor eyesight. Whether that is correct or not, what does the image of “if possible, you would have dug out your eyes and given them to me” tell you about the Galatian Christians’ respect for Paul? Have you ever felt that level of respect for anyone?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, your servant Paul won great respect from those he won to faith in you, yet it proved somewhat fickle. Give me an abiding respect and caring for you above all, and for your servants who guide and bless me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood

Mindy LaHood serves as a Worship Experience Specialist at The Church of the Resurrection. She loves all things related to worship and enjoys working with our talented team of staff and volunteers. One of her favorite things to read about and study are stained glass windows, and she considers herself very blessed to work and worship in a place with such a magnificent window.

This Advent season has been unlike any other for me. While it’s still brimming with the joy of celebrating the greatest gift of love, there’s a unique undertone that I can’t quite put into words. It’s a mixture of somberness, introspection, and a touch of sadness that has added some interesting depth to the holiday.

This Thanksgiving, I went home to spend both my birthday and the holiday with my mom—a true warrior and cancer survivor as of this past year. Witnessing her strength in the face of an ongoing battle has really made an impact on my heart. The fight against cancer doesn’t end with the last surgery or chemo treatment; it persists, demanding vigilance for years to come. This Thanksgiving, as I observed her moving a little slower, getting tired a little faster, and resting a little longer, my heart clenched. It was a poignant reminder of the preciousness of time.

In the midst of these reflections, there was an urgency not to take any moment with my mom for granted. Reminiscing on past Thanksgivings and Christmases, can be fun, but it also stirs a longing ache in the heart. This is where I find myself as I prepare to celebrate Christmas this year.

Emmanuel, God with us—a baby born in Bethlehem to be the Savior of the world—walks among us, showing a love so profound that it’s challenging to comprehend. This truth helps me navigate the tension between the joy of the season and the somberness that tugs at my heart.

In the ongoing sermon series on angels, God’s precious words have spoken directly to my heart each week. As part of my responsibilities at Resurrection, listening as we make the sermon recording is a privilege. Whether in the opening prayer before recording starts or right in the heart of the sermon, God whispers, “Here Mindy…listen to this…this is how much I love you.” The overwhelming feeling is not negative, but the absolute best kind possible.

God consistently reminds me of the angels sent into my life—tiny interruptions that, if not carefully noticed, might slip by. These interruptions take shape in a hug from a volunteer on a busy Sunday morning, the smile of a child practicing to carry in the light of Christ on Christmas Eve, the laughter of co-workers, the next-door neighbor checking in on my mom, the late-night call from a friend that lives far away, and the soul-soothing words of my favorite Christmas carols and hymns sung by our worship leaders and choir.

Lately, these angels have come in the form tiny interruptions, and I’m immensely grateful I slowed down to pay attention. Regardless of what your Christmas celebrations look like this year—whether filled with joy, sorrow, or a mix of both—know that God is constantly aware of you. He’s contemplating ways to provide exactly what you need through the angels among us.

So, as we approach Christmas, let’s be attentive to these tiny interruptions, the subtle ways in which God is speaking to our hearts this Advent season. May your Christmas be filled not only with joy, peace, love, and hope but also with thousands of angel interruptions, constantly reminding you of the vastness of God’s love for you.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (pp. 10272-10273). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** Wright, N. T., Paul for Everyone: Galatians and Thessalonians (The New Testament for Everyone) (pp. 52-53). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.