March 19, 2011 Devotion Sharing

 

Submitted by Hannah Yang, Gracepoint Riverside

As I reviewed the DT this week, one thing that stuck out to me was A. Paul’s consistent and unswerving confidence in God.  In every mention of hardship, difficulty, trial, suffering, and persecution, A. Paul affirms a truth about God and his spirits are lifted.  God and eternity with God are so real to A. Paul.  This was his secret to being undaunted by things that were thrown at him, and it was what kept him going until the very end of his life.  His confidence in God made him attempt things that normal people wouldn’t attempt, it made him get up and keep going despite setbacks and obstacles that normal people would find impossible to overcome, it made him break out into praise and gratitude in times when normal people would despair, it made him a person with such a roomy heart, constantly looking at the needs of others while normal people would cave in and only think about themselves.

I thought about what about God did he find confidence in?  He found confidence in God’s ability to carry out His plan.  In phillipians 1:6 A Paul says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Apostle Paul had confidence that God was working and that He doesn’t need to fret when things don’t turn out the way he expected or when the situation looks bleak.  A. Paul knew that in the end, God would complete the work that he started.  This was why he was able to pray with joy even in the midst of being in chains.

He also had confidence in the fact God provides him a righteousness through Jesus Christ, and not his own merits.  In Phillipians 3 A. Paul rattles off all these things that people of this world find confidence in, and it so happens that he actually had a lot to be confident about by the world’s standards.  But after rattling off all these things, he says in v. 7-10 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”  Apostle Paul was not impressed by these worldly things like status and position, or even religious accomplishment.  He actually thought of it all as rubbish, a complete loss.  For him, his confidence came from the fact that He has a righteousness that comes from God, not himself.  In 2 Tim 4, in his last days, he says “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.”  A. Paul had such confidence that in the end, God would provide him that crown of righteousness, that was the dominant reality for him, not how well he carried out God’s work.  I thought about what a paradigm shift this is for me.  So many of my insecurities and fears stem from wanting these worldly things like competence, status, not being a “loser”, not being seen as lame and unreliable.  I thought about how much my attitude toward Christian life would change if I just placed my confidence in the reality that God would make me righteous not through what I can do, but just through my faith in Christ and my faithfulness to him.  This would make me so much more free and undaunted discouraging situations or poor results.

A Paul also took confidence in what God had already done in his life and he was confident that God would continue to give him strength and deliver him in different circumstances.  In  1 Timothy 1 he says “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. “  He recounts his testimony of how God worked in his life.  God had mercy on him even when he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and a violent man.  Recalling his testimony, he had confidence that it was God who appointed him to His service and that God would continue to work in his life. He was confident that God was able to provide him the strength that he needs, and he is able to redeem hopeless situations.  At the end of 2 Timothy 4 he says “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.”  As A. Paul continues his ministry, this is what kept him going.  God will rescue him from every evil attack!  So often in my Christian life, the first person I turn to when something goes wrong is myself.  I think about how I can get out of this, or make it better, what I need to do to mitigate the situation.  This is why my Christian life seems powerless.  With my strength alone, I can not do anything.  But I need to be like A. Paul and turn to God and really have confidence in the fact that He is the one who has called me to this life and He will provide me strength and rescue me from every evil attack, so I can attempt more and take more risks for God.

I realize that A. Paul wasn’t this super human.  I am able to have that same kind of resolve, zeal, strength and power in my Christian life if I put my confidence in God rather than myself.  The fact is that Christian life is not a walk in the park.  A. Paul encountered trial after trial, he was deserted by everyone, his ministry sometimes seemed fruitless, and he had to endure physical and emotional pain. But he was able to remain faithful because he placed his hope in God and spending eternity with God and that’s what kept him going.  God needs to become a greater reality in my life.  So often I find that the dramas of my life, the obstacles and setbacks that I face, the less than ideal situations that I am in become the dominant reality for me.  But I realize that if I keep living like that, then my Christian life will soon fizzle out and I will become a person with a shriveled heart;  Scared to take on more responsibilities, insecure about myself, paralyzed because of my fears, remaining stagnant in my rel with God, etc.  I really want to work on this aspect of my Christian life and strive to make God a greater reality in my life.

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