March 18, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Michael Kang, Gracepoint San Diego

2 Tim 4:10

What is surprising and tragic about the reason why Demas deserted Apostle Paul?

The fact that Demas deserted Apostle Paul because he loved the world is tragic and surprising, because it was completely opposite of what Apostle Paul and the gospel stood for. The whole message of the gospel is that the world is perishing, and people need to turn away from it and turn to God. But Demas loved the world, did not share in the eternal values of the gospel, and wanted something in the world more than living for eternal glory. It’s sad because he was Apostle Paul’s companion, and rather than continuing on and persevering with Paul, he decided that it was too much and he had to settle down for some reason or another.

What is the relationship between “lov[ing] this world” and deserting the work of God?

Loving the world would naturally lead to deserting the work of God, because the work of God and the values of God are opposed to the world and its values and desires. Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Someone who is seeking the things of this world just cannot be devoted to the work of God. The love of the world involves comfort, material security and wealth, satisfying the flesh and its desires. The work of God means denying all these things and that’s the life that Apostle Paul was living.

What are the things I still love that can potentially become the reason to abandon my commitment to the work of God?

The things that can potentially become the reason to abandon my commitment to the work of God: wanting my own time & space, the love of comfort (physical/emotional), control over my time and schedule, to have a cozy life with family and friends. To abandon my commitment to the work of God does not necessarily mean abandoning the work of God entirely – it could just mean abandoning the commitment that I made, reneging on my vow to make the work of God the priority of my life over anything and everything else. It’s these things above that will be competing in my heart along with ministry and the work of God. Especially as I am here in San Diego, all the more it is imperative that the work of God be paramount, because we are trying to build up the church from the ground up. If there are other things in my life that take greater importance, then it will be easily apparent and affect the ministry here. I might not right now think that anything would cause me to abandon the work of God – but I can see the things that can cool my zeal and desire to give all for the sake of the work of God, the very things mentioned above. I need to practice daily faithfulness and being vigilant over the little thoughts/feelings, searching my heart through prayer and monitoring the temperature of my heart. There can’t even be small things that I guard as my own rather than be willing to give them up for the sake of the gospel, the sake of the work of God. It takes the form of daily small acts, denying my body to show up to DT in the morning fully engaged, denying my desire to close off my heart to some need or some person or holding back in some way, rather than embracing/claiming that situation or need fully, etc.

Submitted by Jammy Yang, Gracepoint Riverside

What picture of Christian life emerges from Apostle Paul’s life?

The picture of Christian life that emerges from this past week’s DT on Apostle Paul’s life is a picture of one who is entirely other centered.  Going through each day’s text there is constantly mention of Paul’s concern for the others and that his life is only about being an instrument to display God’s unlimited patience.   He’s torn between living and doing fruitful labor, basically loving other people or dying and seeing Christ.  I think about a lot of Christians today and what they are torn between is whether it’s God’s will to do this or God’s will to that.  Granted there’s that desire to share the gospel but the focus is on the how and the means on serving God versus I will simply serve God or I will die and see God.  Some of the phrases that really jumped out at me that proves this point is when he says, “all of you,” “advance the gospel,” that you may be able,” “I want you to know,” “because of my chains,” “necessary for you,” “for you progress and joy in the faith,” “you who I love and long for, “  “yet it was good of you,” “not because of anything we have done,” “for I am already being poured out like a drink offering,” and “so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and al the Gentiles might hear it.”  There’s not boasting that AP is engaged but he simply understands that his life is to be used by God to bring good news and salvation to the people.  Another picture of Christian life that comes from Apostle Paul is fundamental understanding of what he gets to do.  For Apostle Paul serving God was not complicated.  It just boiled down to the fact that he saw that what he was doing was totally undeserving.  Apostle Paul has such a clear understanding of himself and because he sees himself as the worst of sinners, a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man, angry and unbelieving, and yet having an opportunity to serve God, gives him clear perspective that what he’s doing is not based on any merit of his own.  All that he has, strength, faithfulness, and service to God he knows it’s all form God.  This is actually quite an amazing statement for Apostle Paul to make because of who Apostle Paul once was. He does have almost every right to claim much, but he claims nothing.  All of his knowledge, his background and status mean nothing to him when it comes to serving God.  His view is that he considers all of that rubbish and he considers all of it a loss and what really matters to him is that he knows Christ and that God would display his power through him.  He says that he doesn’t want a righteousness that comes from his own, that comes from the law, but a righteousness that comes from God, unearned, unmerited, undeserving and having no reason to say, “I did it,” but God did it.

If I were to sum it up Apostle Paul’s life tells me that Christian life is not about what I can do for God, but what God can do through me to win people to him.  Christian life is about other people and helping others find God.  It’s about God displaying his power through me and not about me displaying my power so that others can know God. Christian life is other-centered and any notion of serving God has to filter through the fact that I simply don’t deserve this and that I am doing this because of his mercy, grace, love and strength.

2)     Have I embraced this picture of Christian life for myself?

The one picture of Christian life that I haven’t embraced is the fact that it’s about God displaying his power through me.  There’s still too much me in the picture and how I can do this or how I can do that.  There’s still too much dependence on my strength and my talents.  The ironic part of this is that at the same time I feel inadequate and I get wrapped in my failings and potential failings.  What’s missing is the awe and wonder of what God has called me to do despite the fact of who I am.  I am a sinner, a liar, a thief, an angry person, proud and defensive, but God like-wise has called me and appointed me to his service and has considered me faithful.  My reaction should just be awe and wonder and to continue to know Christ better and to simply love other people.  I haven’t embraced the full picture of who I am and this is something that I need to do through continual confessing of my sins, through prayer and deeper meditation on the gospel.


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