Very often I think of the teachings from scripture that were recorded from the writings of the great apostle Paul. He seems to be the closest example of Christ-likeness to me. I believe his life was one amazing story for all of us to learn from. What I’ve seen from it is that he was zealous to follow the perfect will of God no matter what it cost him in personal sacrifice. He said “I have not yet attained yet I follow on to apprehend all I have been apprehended for.” That statement has always encouraged me to persevere in hard times. I have no desire to exalt myself as if I were equal to Paul but I sure do desire to do all I was chosen to do. I’ve not been chosen to apprehend all that Paul was anointed to do but I have been chosen to excel in what he has planned for my own life. And I believe that’s true of all of us.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
I want to do what the Lord requires so that I bear fruit that is pleasing to his taste. I think that’s what Paul was saying; that he wanted to be faithful to all that God had planned for his life. And the stories from his life are pictures of the triumphs that can be apprehended, but they’re also pictures of the cost of the sacrifices to realize the fulness of the plan. Paul had to give up his love of all of his old life while God was preparing him for his new life. He laid it all down, over and over. He was Christlike in the way he made himself of no reputation, he just yielded himself to the perfect will of God, for the glory of God. His bad reputation from his early days was always a point of persecution, but he allowed God to use him to demonstrate his great mercy and power over all that came to hinder his walk of new day power and love. He followed the leadings of the spirit into great danger, as a lamb being led to slaughter. He actually did what he said, he died daily. He had realized his whole life desire; he mastered the grace of dying to his own self will and emotions. And so can we.
Colossians 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
I’m also aware that he was wise enough to know that he would die spiritually if he didn’t choose the difficult path of dying to his self will. Because he died to old ways daily he was consistently apprehending the grace of being raised up into a new day resurrection life. The change in him was constant.
To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life..
Paul submitted himself to times of intense suffering, according to the will of God. When he wanted to do things that were not the will of God, he submitted joyfully when God forbid it. He was transparent about his wars and struggles against enemy activity He said once that he had made a plan, but that satan had hindered him from doing what he had planned. Maybe just delayed it, who knows? I took note too the Paul preached when preaching was what the Lord required but there were times that he didn’t preach, he just demonstrated good will to heathen men for the purpose of their salvation. He was totally spirit led, regardless of what the crowd thought. I think he didn’t really know what his future held but he pursued the calling day by day anyway. He was probably not well known by the masses as a mighty apostle of God in his lifetime, he was just content to be who God had created him to be in his life and ministry. He walked in the sweet bond of the Spirit as God appointed him to but he went where the Holy Spirit led him.
I feel like that attitude and lifestyle is what we’re all called to demonstrate. A life hidden with God, in Christ, zealous to know and to do the will of God, whatever it costs us in reputation and personal sacrifice. However we might appear to be before friends, enemies and family, we seek to learn how to walk in ways that are pleasing to our Father. And we struggle through trials of falling short and recovering. But in saying that I remember also that God says that we ought to people who are well spoken of by those who are without. So it takes a depth of grace to deal wisely with the everyday trials of life and ministry. Disciples walk out the obedience to the blood covenant, always remembering that Jesus died for all men. And we ought to be wise enough to discern that we are in a time where all who profess to know Jesus are not in that kingdom order. We need to know how to discern spiritual fruit. Some do not give honor to the daily blood sacrifice of the lamb of God. It’s only in the reverence of and the keeping of the covenant of God that we will find our life rewards. The little by little, day by day discovery of the delight of knowing Jesus. The divine romance with the King of Glory…thank you, Jesus!
Hebrews 13: 20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.