March 17, 2011 Devotion Sharing

 

Submitted by Lem Maghamil, Gracepoint San Diego.

1 Tim 1.12-17

Think about a person who finds serving God laborious and tiresome.  Contrast this attitude with Apostle Paul’s response to being appointed to his service.  Which attitude more resembles mine?  What is the source of Apostle Paul’s joy and gratitude when he thinks about his current role in God’s service?

  • There are people who find serving God laborious and tiresome and the faith they express through their lives is a merely a shell of what was once a powerful witness.  Sadly the pattern is people begin their spiritual journey with a lot of zeal but then fizzle out.  They have a powerful salvation testimony and set out to serve God with their whole life but soon ease back into a life of practicality and comfort.  Eventually the work of the Lord becomes laborious and tiresome.  This is in contrast against Apostle Paul’s response to being appointed to his service.  For some the call of a Christian is drudgery and a necessary response to God’s sovereignty.  Apostle Paul sees the charge given him as purely an unmerited honor.  Vss. 12-14 describes the life Apostle Paul led as a blasphemer and a violent man until he meets Christ.  Vss. 15-16 is an expression of the heart of humility and gratitude Paul had towards his salvation.  Christ Jesus came to save sinners of which I am the worst, but this was done so that through my life Christ’s patience may be known.  Wow!
  • When I look at my response I want to say it vacillates back and forth.  There are times I experience dragging my feet through Christian life and then through a prayer meeting, a message, a DT and even a meeting with a fellow brother I am reminded of the grace God poured upon me.  I wish I could say that I experience serving God with Apostle Paul like focus.  I wish I could say that I daily connect with my testimony.  It’s not that I consider serving God as laborious and tiresome, but I admit at times it’s a challenge to get through the day.  It’s part of the spiritual war that I wage daily to be consistent and faithful to God’s calling.  Recently I have been reflecting and praying over Apostle Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:13-14 “…But one thing I do.  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  What allows Paul to press on or any Christian for that matter?  It’s the joy in one’s salvation that allows them to push through the struggles and setbacks and on the other side of perseverance to experience a longing and hope for heaven.
  • The source of Apostle Paul’s joy and gratitude stems from the gospel and his salvation.  He is able to connect his life back to the day Jesus saved him from a path of destruction not only for himself but for those believers he persecuted.  This comes out so powerfully in vv.12-17 and it served as fuel for the whole of his ministry.  It was his salvation and the calling he received to be an Apostle to the Gentiles that sustained him through all the persecution, the times of dryness, the frustration of churches moving away from the faith, the days of preaching without one conversion and the many times he had to defend himself before the Jews and magistrates.  Paul’s deep appreciation for the gospel is what sustained him.

What does Apostle Paul’s life illustrate according to v. 16?

According to v.16 Apostle Paul’s life served as a means to show God’s incredible mercy and grace upon a great sinner.  His life was meant to show the watching world and for anyone who would take notice that Jesus has the power to change a once vehement persecutor of the faith to its strongest proponent at the time.  God is able to turn a person’s life around 180 degrees.  I think about people in my life today that I am praying for- family who has made poor decisions, students who got into a heap of trouble and friends who I wonder if they will ever come to know God.  God is able to turn that person’s life around completely.  This is what is shown through Apostle Paul’s life and through the life of any genuine Christian really.   The power of the gospel to transform is a truth I need to cling to as I engage in ministry here on the UCSD campus.  Just yesterday I received a phone call from a relative of a student I met when we first came to the UCSD campus.  He wasn’t responsive to my invitation to Bible Study and Sunday service.  The relative called and asked me to please reach out to him again since he might be open in this season of life.  He recently hit rock bottom with drug addiction and his life is spinning out of control.  The relative said that God sent our church as she has been praying for her relative.  Only Jesus and the gospel can transform a person who is that broken.  I have already experienced answer to prayers for a few students in similar situations.  I simply have to look at my own testimony to see how God redeems broken sinners who are headed on a pathway to destruction.  I promised I would pray for the student and God willing perhaps they would meet with me.  I pray that I will see him in Bible Study or Sunday Service one day hearing the word of God and experiencing Jesus’ transforming power.  And I pray that one day his transformed life will echo the words of my testimony and Apostle Paul’s testimony in 1 Timothy 1:16; “16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”


Submitted Daniel Kim, Gracepoint San Diego

What does Apostle Paul’s life illustrate according to v. 16?

Verse 16 states that Apostle Paul’s life and calling illustrates God’s unlimited patience.

It seems that Apostle Paul never got over two things..  He never got over the fact that he was a persecutor of Christians, a person who opposed Jesus.  He never got over that fact, causing him to exclaim that he is the worst of sinners.  If it ended there, it would be a true but sad indictment.  However, Apostle Paul also never got over the fact that God has shown mercy to him.  To the one who was against God, Jesus has shown mercy.  So the fact that he was the worst of sinners now becomes the greatest testament of God’s grace.  “But for that very reason,” Apostle Paul says, God has used him as “an example of those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”   If I can be saved, anyone can.  If God shows mercy on someone like Saul to make him into an Apostle Paul, then anyone can be shown mercy and change.   The tables have completely turned — the worst of shame, the worst of darkness now becomes the greatest light that testifies to God’s grace.

What does that mean?  When I feel like I am hopeless, when I feel like I am the worst of sinners, when I feel like I can’t change — those things that make me feel that way can be the very things that God can use to display His unlimited patience and mercy.  This text seems to even suggest that God would intentionally choose the people for that very reason that they are unlikely candidates.

It’s easy for me to think of Apostle Paul as a great man who seemed to be born to spread the gospel.  But Apostle Paul would not agree — he never got over the fact that he was one man on earth who is the farthest away from the gospel.  So if Apostle Paul can be called, if he can be used by God to be a herald of the gospel, then God can use anyone.  So when I see myself or others around me disqualifying themselves from being used by God because of this or that, I need to remember that God wants to display His unlimited patience through my/their lives “for that very reason.”


Submitted by Joanna Kang, Gracepoint San Diego

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Think about a person who finds serving God laborious and tiresome. Contrast this attitude with A.Paul’s response to being appointed to his service. Which attitude more resembles mine? What is the source of A.Paul’s joy and gratitude when he thinks about his current role in God’s service?

A person who finds serving God laborious and tiresome would be someone who mainly focuses on how tired they are, how hard it is to forfeit their own time for the lives of others. They are thinking of all the things they can’t do like their laundry, bills, cleaning their house, different chores, or even not being able to do more ministry, meet more people, etc. They easily feel overwhelmed by the demands of life. They see ministry as just tasks to be done.

In contrast, A.Paul’s response to being appointed to God’s service is so different as he’s filled with gratitude, humility, and thankfulness that God would use him. Some of the verses that show this are:

v. 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord…that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service..
v. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and a violent man, I was shown mercy…
v. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly…
vv. 15-16 Christ Jesus came to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience…

From these verses, it is clear that A.Paul never lost sight of his true identity as a sinner. In fact, he called himself the “worst of sinners” because he was a persecutor and a violent man. Because he knows that he only deserved God’s judgment, he could be in awe and marvel over the grace he received and how he was shown undeserved mercy. On top of that, A.Paul is amazed that God appointed him to his service. That’s why A.Paul, despite all his intense suffering could break out in spontaneous praise and thanksgiving to God in v. 17 and say with confidence, “Now to the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Sadly, my own attitude too often resembles that of someone who finds serving God tiresome. I tend to just focus on how I am feeling at the moment and usually it’s “tired.” If I’m busy, I think of all the things that I still didn’t get to, and that causes unnecessary stress. On one level, I think I need to learn how to deny my body and work harder, and just build up my tolerance for hard work. On another level, I need to learn how to zoom out like A.Paul and just be amazed at the fact that I’m saved and that I get to serve God at all, especially considering how I was and am such a sinner. I need to learn how to dwell on the grace that God has given me and allow that to motivate me and give me the strength to push on, which is way more motivating than just being disappointed with myself and wanting self-improvement.

The source of A.Paul’s joy and gratitude when he thinks of his role in God’s service can be boiled down to thinking “it didn’t have to be this way.” He thinks about his past, how he persecuted the churched, blasphemed God, and was violent, and how he could’ve just been left in that miserable state, had it not been for God pouring his mercy on him.

The source of A.Paul’s joy can be my joy as well since I have a personal testimony of God’s grace, if I only take time to think about it. My life certainly didn’t have to be this way: receiving salvation, being freed from many of my old vices, having a loving church community that I am intimately involved in amongst all the gracepoint churches, and having an amazing purpose for my life to serve God and in particular having the privilege of being on the first church plant team to San Diego. It definitely did not have to be this way since I was so rebellious in my high school and college years, was a mocker of Christianity, and lived such an immoral reckless life. I should’ve been left in my sins, yet God poured out his mercy on me by sending people from this church to love me and teach me about God during my freshman year in the Beverly Clearly dorms at Berkeley. He saved me and then appointed me to his service, and even then showed more mercy and patience to me through the church community for the past 9 years to shape and mold me. When I step back, it is really amazing that I get to be where I am today. Compared to this amazing truth, it now seems so petty and inappropriate to be overly focused on how tired or stressed I am. When I do that, I am missing out on the fuller picture of reality that I’ve been given so much mercy from God, and to be tried because I’m serving God is actually a privilege and not a burden.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response