March 12, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Pastor Jonathan Lee, Gracepoint Davis

Apostle Paul is my hero and I want to grow to be just like him!  To be sure, my ultimate example is Jesus Christ who loved me and gave himself up for me, but it’s so easy for me to make excuses for not living up to the standard that Jesus set-after all, Jesus was the Son of God!  But when it comes to Apostle Paul, he faced the same limitations that I face today-we only have 24 hours in the day, we’re prone to fears and worries, we get tempted with discouragements in the midst of a culture that is hostile to Christianity, and we get body aches and heartaches all around.  But as I got to see the clear example of Apostle Paul through recent DT’s, I realized that it wasn’t because he a superhero with superpowers, but rather, he was a person who was totally taken over by the gospel message.  He didn’t give any pushback when the demands of Christ demanded his life.

The gospel wasn’t just a nice thing that happened to him, but rather, it took over his life to take full control over every aspect of life.  In effect, he freely yielded and surrendered his life for the sake of the gospel and that led to all of his heart, soul, and mind being allocated for the gospel ministry.  He himself testified to this in 1 Cor. 9:19 “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.”  He was no longer a free man, but instead was under the binding control of the gospel.  He was more than a teacher/preacher, minister, or even a church planter-he was a slave of Christ and the ministry of reconciliation.  The gospel compelled him each day as he shared in 1 Cor. 9:16 “.I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

This totally goes against what is considered normal and natural today.  If Apostle Paul were living today (doing what he did back then), he would be considered “too much” or “too extreme” and that he should “chill out” and not be so intense.  Sadly, much of that kind of criticism might come from those within the walls of the churches today.  But the bitter irony is that if Apostle Paul had not been so intensely obedient to the gospel ministry, then there would be very few churches in the first place…

I suspect a big part of Apostle Paul’s intensity is the result of having very little concern for his own life.  Oh yes, we were reminded of that from Acts 20:24 “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”  When I start to focus on my own concerns, I invariably lose the intensity for the gospel ministry.  When I try to clutch onto my own rights, my own space, and my own time, I end up getting petty and worked up about little things that I want to keep undisturbed.  But I want to have the big heart that Apostle Paul had for so many churches and all the people at those church plants as we got to glimpse in 2 Cor. 11:29 “Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”  He knew nothing of the “out of sight, out of mind” compartmentalized heart.  He was constantly burdened by those who needed to repent, those who needed encouragements, those who needed to reject complacency, and those who needed to be spurred on to join him in the gospel message.

One starting point for me in following Apostle Paul is to pray all the more earnestly for all the Gracepoint Ministries through our prayer band.  I need to enlarge my heart to be impacted by the challenges of the gospel ministry all around.  Even this morning as I was praying for our church plants and missions, I began to experience a little more stretching of my heart beyond what is here in Davis…

Lord, may my life be even more yielded to the gospel ministry so that it may consume and control every part of life!

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