The Apostle Paul’s life and ministry is a testimony to remaining faithful to the purpose God has given us with every breath until our last. His example provides us with a model of the things upon which to focus our attention in order to faithfully live out God’s call every day of our lives.
God’s relentless pursuit of relationship with humanity continues and expands as the early church scatters and one of the greatest persecutors of the church becomes one of the greatest missionaries for the gospel.
The crucifixion of Christ is only part of the story. In order to get the full message we must also come to grips with the resurrection. The resurrection lifts the fog for us and gives the followers of Jesus the ability to live with a renewed perspective, power, and purpose.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is what the first 25 chapters of The Story have been leading up to. As Christ dies on the cross, He dies as our substitute, taking upon Himself the punishment we deserve for our sin and making it possible for us to find reconciliation with God. But His cross also reveals to us a tangible example of the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ a life that is marked by selflessness, obedience, and sacrifice.
When Jesus asked His disciples “who do you say that I am?” He was not experiencing an identity crisis. He was seeking to help direct their expectations and redefine some of their understandings. Jesus continues to ask that question and it is answered in many different ways, but there is only one way that the Bible permits us to answer this question that is true to who Jesus really is. He is our divine friend who shows us what He thinks of us by going to the cross.
A look at the individuals who were part of the incarnation of Jesus Christ reveals to us that no matter how ordinary we may be, as God’s children, we are part of God’s great plan, and no matter where we are of what’s going on God is never far away.
Nehemiah 8 and 9 record one of the greatest revivals that took place in Scripture. These chapters trace the journey of those who have returned to Jerusalem from repentance to joy. The account reveals the natural progression that will take place in our lives when we experience a return to God. When confronted with the Word of God we recognize our sinfulness, His holiness, and find ourselves broken in His presence. But as we find ourselves broken we also find that our God meets us in our brokenness to raise us up and restore us to the joy of salvation through what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us at the cross.
After 70 years of living in exile, God works through the king of Persia to orchestrate a return to Jerusalem for a remnant of Israel. God sends them back to rebuild the Temple, keeping God’s big thing as their big things too. But opposition and discouragement get the best of the people and they spend over a decade focusing on secondary things until God sends the prophet Haggai to get them back on track. This remnant teaches as that even when we are obedient to God’s purpose we can become discouraged and lose focus if we get our eyes off of God, but God will restore our focus and get us back on track.