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The gospel shaped Paul’s own walk with Jesus

February 24, 2024
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Daily Scripture

1 Timothy 1:12-16

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength because he considered me faithful. So he appointed me to ministry 13 even though I used to speak against him, attack his people, and I was proud. But I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and without faith. 14 Our Lord’s favor poured all over me along with the faithfulness and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 This saying is reliable and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I’m the biggest sinner of all. 16 But this is why I was shown mercy, so that Christ Jesus could show his endless patience to me first of all. So I’m an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul never preached the gospel from a detached, impersonal perspective. He could never forget that, honestly convinced he was doing what God desired, he had hated and even killed believers in the Jesus he now served (cf. Acts 26:9-11). Today’s passage from 1 Timothy showed him * recalling when he was a persecutor and describing himself as “the biggest sinner of all.” But that was not a statement of self-loathing or despair. It was a grateful, joy-filled testimony to the amazing difference God’s grace had made in his life. “Our Lord’s favor poured all over me along with the faithfulness and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14).

  • As an ambitious, angry young Pharisee, Saul had all the human credentials—“proper” birth, great education, and even persecuting Christians. What are the human accomplishments, family heritages, and social awards and recognitions you are proudest of? If preserving any of them ever conflicted with accepting God’s grace and heeding God’s call on your life, what choice would you make? Paul told the Philippians they were all his “partners in the ministry of the gospel” (Philippians 1:5) and urged the Romans to render their “appropriate priestly service” to God by using the gifts God had put in each of their lives (cf. Romans 12:1-8). In what ways has God not only accepted you in mercy but equipped you to join in sharing God’s grace with others ministry? How are you responding to that God-given call to serve?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, like Paul, I’ve done plenty of things that disappointed you and hurt others. Thank you for showing me mercy and calling me into your service. Amen.

GPS Insights

Hyemi Lee Jones

Hyemi Lee Jones

Rev. Hyemi Lee Jones joined Resurrection in July 2022 and serves as director of Connection and Care at the Leawood location. She grew up in South Korea and came to America to study theology at Drew Theological School and Yale Divinity School. Her calling to ordained ministry started as a hospital chaplain and then served local churches as an elder of the Great Plains Conference.

About one year ago, my husband, Jeremy, and I started our little tradition of “Friday family movie night” with our children as a way to strengthen our connection. Upon finishing our dinner, we get changed into PJs, gather in our humble basement, and cuddle under a blanket (though our seven-year-old daughter is getting too big to cuddle with me on a recliner and our nine-year-old son on Jeremy’s lap). We have watched all the Marvel superhero movies, “Lord of the Rings,” “Indiana Jones,” “Harry Potter,” and so much more.

Now that our children have grown up to an age where they learn to appreciate the stories, not always through the dualistic lens of black and white/ good and bad, our discussions of the movies’ stories are more fun and meaningful. One of the things they are learning as we share cinemas is being able to see that villains are not always caused by pure evil. Often they are birthed from pain and hurt which turns them to use their power in a wrong way–misdirected passion. Learning about the world through cinema gives them a perspective that people are not inherently bad or good. Rather, we can be both bad and good depending on the choices we make.

Especially today’s Scripture invites me to pause to think I, too, can be a villain to someone with even my good intentions, just like how the apostle Paul was. Ask my husband! He might at times have felt that I was his enemy. We all can be villains when we misdirect our gifts, energy, and resources or simply misunderstand others. 

Therefore, today, I am reminded of the humility with which I need God’s grace each day. And how the Bible becomes the compass that guides me to make good, life-giving choices. Today’s Scripture calls me deeper into my calling to be a connection and care pastor where I am called to provide a non-judgmental listening presence as I encounter those from all walks of life. I want to assure you that our connection and care pastors are here for you as you go through a season of spiritual discernment. We will offer a non-judgmental presence and pray with you as you prepare to take the next step in faith. 

© 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

* “Most mainline scholars believe that Titus and 1 and 2 Timothy were written after the time of Paul by one who was a disciple of Paul, offering the kind of guidance and instruction Paul had given while he was alive.” (Footnote in Hamilton, Adam, The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul (p. 82). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.)