The Scars of a Prisoner May 1-5
When Paul declared that on his body were the marks of Jesus, he referred to the scars that had been left by the scourgings, stonings, vigils, and turmoil Paul endured for the sake of Christ. They showed that he belonged wholly to Christ, his Master. Standing up for Jesus may take us out of our comfort and safety zone. There is, after all, a cost to following Christ. The cost might be experienced in our finances, our security, our family, relationships, and yes – even our physical well-being. Like scars we have from our healings, these kinds of scars speak loudly and give testimony to the incredible worth of following Jesus to those who are exploring faith.
Day 1 2 Corinthians 11:16-30
Reflect: How do you think the church felt after reading this? What does this say about Paul? His walk with Christ? His love for the church? What are your feelings as you read this text?
Apply: Paul’s scarred body spoke volumes about his faith and calling. What kinds of things do we look for or see in Christians today that we admire? Have you heard a commendation?
Pray: Father, Your mighty arm can do things for me beyond what any army could do! To boast of my weakness is to boast of Your power. Teach me how to love both You and others and truly depend on You in all things.
Day 2 Galatians 6:12-18
Reflect: For what reasons does Paul say that some promote circumcision? How did Paul show that he lived out his faith in Christ? What would that have meant to the people he led?
Apply: What have you done to avoid being persecuted for following Jesus? What kinds of “marks” do you have that show your commitment to Him? Have you ever shared them?
Pray: Lord, in Your grace, make me a marked follower of Christ, reshaping my inner and outer life. Let me bear on my body, and in my life, the marks of faith, of grace, of life in You.
Day 3 2 Corinthians 4:8-18
Reflect: What does Paul mean in verses 8-10? What is the relationship between believing and speaking? What do you think keeps Paul persevering in his faith?
Apply: What is your motivation for serving God? What have been your light and momentary troubles for serving Jesus? How has God sustained you through difficulty?
Pray: Creator God, I know You hold the world and the future in your hands. Help me to see things with an eternal perspective. Teach me to discard temporary wants and replace them with actions that will shape the kingdom.
Day 4 1 Peter 2:20-25
Reflect: In this passage, what is Paul’s primary message about suffering? How do you understand the truth of the words from Isaiah, “by His wounds you have been healed”?
Apply: What is different about suffering for Jesus as its own reward and suffering for Him for a reward? How have you experienced Jesus as the Shepherd? As the Lamb who was slain?
Pray: Father, living in a fallen world, we cannot escape suffering, but those who stand firm in faith, trusting that You have overcome the world, have no reason to fear. Thank You that You will never leave us to walk through suffering alone.
Day 5 Romans 5:1–11
Reflect: How is God described in this text? How are we described? How do hard times bring about perseverance, strength of character, and hope, and why is that important?
Apply: Has anything changed in your view of or willingness to experience suffering for Christ? How has this series helped you to be more willing to share what Jesus has done for you?
Pray: Father, thank You for my salvation and the hope that I have in Christ. Give me a teachable spirit and a willingness to rejoice in You, no matter what difficulties I face. May my life be a testimony to Your goodness, grace and amazing love.
Put It Into Practice!
Week 4: The Scars of a Prisoner
The scars on Paul’s body tell quite a story. His faith in and love for Jesus was very obvious and no one who encountered him could miss it! During this week, take time to talk with Jesus about your commitment to Him. How can you go deeper with Him? How do others in your life see Jesus in you? If you have them, how may your scars that came from following Jesus be an encouragement for someone you know? Take a brave step and share your love for Jesus with someone— no matter the cost.