Paul the Servant of God
Thought of the Day – Paul, the Servant of God
Dear Son, as we spoke previously on the subject of submission I want to share with you what God has placed on my heart for you.
Submission, when it is a genuine response to the Love of God’s Amazing Grace, and not done out of self righteous obligation, is the key that makes one’s life go from ordinary to extraordinary and Grace is evidenced working its perfect way in that individual so much so that it will be evident and impact others.
Paul, the servant of God is the example I want to draw your attention to and as you read his letters and become familiar with both his writing and style you will see the results of God working in him.
If you look at his writings the typical way he greeted the readers was with this quote:
“Grace and peace to you.”
If you have Grace, perfect peace follows, not as the world defines peace but peace as an assurance and confident expectation that Jesus will never leave or forsake you regardless of the circumstances and if anyone knew difficulties it was Paul yet he knew perfect peace.
I love what the Bible says about this perfect peace…
Isaiah 26:3 You (God) will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Where is the source of this peace?
In Jesus Christ and the knowledge that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; we are highly favored, forgiven by faith and we are the beloved of God through Christ! If you want to know how loved you are look at the love of the Father for Jesus, we are that loved in Him.
That kept Paul in peace despite unbelievable hardships that we can’t imagine and here is just a partial sampling of what he went through
2 Corinthians 11:23 … I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.
11:24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. (flogged like Jesus, the sentence of death required 40 lashes, he only got 39!)
11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea (literally floating in the ocean),
11:26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.
11:27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
11:28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
11:29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? (he was tempted like all men)
11:30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
11:31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.
11:32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me.
11:33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
He continues and then when it is all said and done he tells the secret to his endurance…
2Co 12:7 Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. (Many preacher preach that this was an ailment, a disease or sickness of some kind and that is incorrect, these people (messenger of Satan), were Judaizers who were a sect of early Christians who believed Gentiles had to convert to Judaism in order to embrace Jesus as the Messiah and that was totally contrary to the Gospel of Grace Paul wrote. Why? Because the devil wants believers to go back to the law and not be under Grace so he can keep us in bondage rather than experience the liberty we can have in Christ!)
2Co 12:8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
2Co 12:9 But he (Jesus) said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
That is the secret of Paul’s extraordinary life and it can be yours and mine and anyone who believes in Jesus and subsequently responds in love and not obligation.
Self righteousness, independence, self will are all enemies of the spirit that God wants to develop in us whereas submission as a response to Grace will open up the floodgates of heaven’s power to work through us.
Paul understood these points both by being instructed properly and through an intimate ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ and as a result he goes on to write the better part of the New Testament whose impact is still being felt over 2,000 years after being penned!
The letter he and others wrote that make up the text of the New Testament were not simply greetings but rather written for correcting errors or dealing with difficulties in the body of Christ.
When God freed the Jews from Egypt he created the nation of Israel, now at Pentecost God is birthing the Church and it is mainly through Paul’s writing and revelation that he is teaching and making them disciples by his instructions and admonitions. Whereas previously in the Old Testament God punished under the law, which implies anger as its source, now Paul is showing us the correction and being disciplined under the goodness of God since his wrath and punishment were already paid in full by Jesus. God disciplines those he loves and Paul’s writings deal heavily with this and they are brilliant!
But it didn’t start that way…
Paul had to be corrected first; the great Apostle had to first be discipled.
Son, one thing I have discovered is that through seeking to learn about the culture of the times I read about in the Bible has opened up a great deal of understanding of God’s Word more clearly and I want to share with you some things about Paul and his culture that will clarify things now and as you study more deeply.
A typical Jewish boy of the time, when he is about 6, would begin studying the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). Now by studying it isn’t what we imagine, they would begin at that age to memorize the 5 books of Moses, what is called the written Law! It was not a casual study by any means it would typically be taught by the “Hazzan”, which is the local rabbi in the synagogue. This was all done in the Hebrew language which is how the books were originally written. When the child reaches about 12 years of age they begin studying the “oral arguments”. These are similar to us studying commentaries but in their culture the oral arguments were studies of writings and sayings by Hebrew scholars who had spoken of or expounded on the finer points of the Law. In Paul’s time these were done in Aramaic so not only would his studies involved a deeper understanding of God’s Law it would require learning additional languages. Paul was born in the city of Tarsus which at the time was the capital of the Roman colony of Cilicia, now Turkey, and because it was a Roman colony at the time he was considered a Roman citizen which was very important especially as you read the Book of Acts. He was probably born in an affluent family and the reason for this is that after a child reaches a certain age advanced studies such as Paul received would not be available to the average Jew but rather to a family who could afford to support him while he studied. If a child was shown to have promise and abilities he would be placed with a mentor who would take him deeper into his knowledge of the Law, this describes Paul.
In our culture Paul would have had the equivalent of a doctorate and law degree, highly educated by any standard and as such he would have placed confidence in these studies, his culture and background so he was “somebody”…or so you would think!
Here is how he describes this in part…
Philippines 3:5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 3:6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
So you would think that with all this God would use him…well, not quite, God first had to re-instruct him.
It is not a stretch to say that of all the people whose writings are included in the Bible no one was more qualified to speak about the Law than Paul.
Yet, there is no one better qualified in the New Testament, other than Jesus, to speak about Grace than Paul.
What transformed this man to go from one extreme to the other? What happened that caused Paul to become such a radical in his time?
A 3 year bible study Paul had with Jesus alone in Arabia, that’s what.
During those three years the influence of the Law ceased, Grace was birthed in Paul.
Just as Jesus had chosen 12 men and instructed them personally, after Paul is converted Jesus literally takes Paul and instructs him as well by removing him from his surrounding and beginning to re-instruct him not in the Law, but in Grace!
Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
1:14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
This is exceedingly rich!
Paul, like you and me and anyone who will be born again have been called by Grace, unmerited favor, highly blessed, why? It pleased God!!!
That is just awesome! When you fully realize and accept that none of us deserved this yet it Pleased God, if that doesn’t make you fall in love with Jesus Christ nothing will. That is the power of Grace that can transform the heart into submission and the fruits can change the world literally!!!
Whereas it isn’t likely any of us will be set aside to go to the desert to learn for 3 years before setting out to minister it isn’t difficult to accept that all of us are (1) called and (2) we can have revelations by Jesus Christ through the instructions of the Holy Spirit.
Can you imagine that Bible Study?
Three years alone learning from Jesus personally with no one interfering or any distractions, it’s no wonder Paul’s writing have changed the world! That is fruit being produced by submission to Grace!
Now, son, here is a question for you to ponder and I would like your feedback and as I know you will think on this deeply I can tell you I will look forward to your answer…
“What will you allow Grace to do in you?”
I can tell you this, the answer is greater than all you think or imagine, it is way beyond your reasoning but dwell on this,
“What can God do through your life if you respond in submission to his Grace?”
Think on it…