Paul expressed thanksgiving for churches (Rom. 1:8; 1 Cor. 1:4-8; Eph. 1:15-16; Phil. 1:3-5; Col. 1:3-5; 1 Thes. 1:2-10; 2 Thes. 1:3-4). He was especially thankful for their faith, hope and/or love and mentioned the special ways they displayed these virtues. It is only right that I should be thankful for the Oregon City church.
Paul’s thanksgiving was typically expressed in his prayers to God (Rom. 1:9-10; 1 Cor. 1:4; Eph. 1:16; Phil. 1:3-4; Col. 1:3, 9; 1 Thes. 1:2). Something we like to do on Wednesday nights is pray for individual members in our church directory by name. It is wonderful to be able to give thanks to God in prayer for the Oregon City church.
It is astounding how often Paul gives a shoutout to certain Christians. The good works of these Christians continues to be mentioned in churches today as we publicly read Paul’s letters. Cenchrea is known for her service. Prisca and Aquila are known for their work and for risking their lives for Paul and Luke includes a story about them in Acts. Paul mentions Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junias, Ampliatus, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, Aristobulus, Herodion, Narcissus, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, Asyncitus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, Philogus, Julia, Nereus, Olympas, Gaius, Lucius, Jason, Sosipater, Tertius, Erastus, Quartus, Sosthenes, Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, Titus, Timothy, Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, Oneimus. Perhaps I have overlooked one or two. It’s like reading a first century church directory. Some are mentioned more than once. These are men and women who loved God and worked hard in His service. It might be encouraging if we followed Paul’s example more often and mentioned those who work hard in the kingdom by name.
The Hebrew writer mentioned faithful people of God from the past. Those who are well-known like Abraham, Sarah, Moses and David. Even lessor knowns like Barak, Jephthah and Enoch. None of these were perfect. In fact, some of them are so flawed you wonder how they could be included in any list of examples. But they were faithful. By faith, even though sinful, they did great things and gained God’s approval. Paul reminded Timothy of those who helped lay a foundation of faith in his life, his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. It’s good to remember the faith of those who have gone on before. Family and church leaders who made an impact on our Christian walk should not be forgotten. We have had both here in the Oregon City church.