Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday 11/16 Be thankful for God's calling

1 Timothy 1:12-14 "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and apersecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with thefaith and love which are found in Christ Jesus."

Yesterday we considered the importance of giving thanks to the Lord. We considered key individuals in the Biblical record, and how they gave thanks to the Lord. Today we consider Paul's statements in 1 Timothy 1:12-14. As he wrote this epistle to the young Pastor at Ephesus, Timothy, Paul wanted to express to Timothy what it would take to excercise oneself properly in the church of God. A key trait of both pastor and church member alike is giving thanks to the Lord. Certainly the theme of God's calling is evident in these verses, being that without God's calling in ministry or even in salvation, no one could serve and no one could experience salvation.

Thank the Lord for the call to ministry
Paul begins by expressing to Timothy how awesome it was that Jesus Christ Himself had called Him to minister as an apostle. One of the motivations for sharing this trip down memory lane is to remind Timothy of the fact that he had been with the Lord from the beginnings of the Christian movement. Some of the false teachers who were confusing the Law and Gospel were "Johnny-Come-Latelys" who only wanted fame and noteriety among men. Paul's Divine encounter with the post-resurrected, post-ascended Jesus on the Damscus road can be reasonably dated to within less than two years of Jesus' ascension. In Acts 9:22 we read of what took place following Paul's dramatic encounter: "But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ."

Paul had been known as "Saul" in those early days, and Acts 9 explicitly states that he was "increasing in strength". The same word used by Luke in Acts 9:22 is the same word used by Paul here in 1 Timothy 1:12. It was Jesus Himself who enabled Paul with the gifts and talent to begin serving him in the ministry. Such an endument or "anointing" from on-high remained with Paul even to the writing of 1 Timothy. God's calling is remarkable in the fact that God's choosing and calling of people stems not from what they do but completely from God's own personal desire to use them. 

Thank the Lord for the call to salvation
It is in 1 Timothy 1:13-14 that Paul expands upon the significant circumstances surrounding His calling to ministry. Paul's call to salvation came first. The point of these verses is to underscore the fact that out of all the people in the world who were least likely to be the greatest spokeman for Jesus Christ the world-over, certainly that person could not had been Saul of Tarsus. As Paul relays in 1 Timothy 1:13a "even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor." I love the phrase "even though". Why? Because whatever will come after that "even though" phrase will totally overule whatever Paul had once done prior to his conversion.

You and I dear friend have done a lot of "even though's" in our lifetimes. We were not worthy to be called by Jesus Christ unto His salvation. We were in the same predicament as all lost sinners. Paul was literally arch-enemy number one to both the early church and to Jesus Christ. 

With that said, the most powerful word in 1 Timothy 1:13 erases Paul's former identity: "yet". "Yets" are awesome words in the scriptures. When I see the word "yet", that is usually a God word. God alone can take a no body and make them a somebody who can tell everybody about The Somebody who can save anybody. This is Paul's whole point in his fountain of thanksgiving in these verses. We read in 1 Timothy 1:14 "and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus."

Think about this: if Jesus had not called Paul in salvation, he would had continued on the road of destruction. Furthermore, if Jesus had not called Paul in salvation and then into ministry, we may not have had 2/3 of our New Testaments or at least we would not have the same Bibles that have survived for two millennia. The call of God makes nothing into something. 

May you and I today be thankful for God's calling. I thank the Lord who called me unto Himself in 1984 and who called me into His service in 1991. Whatever station of life you are serving, whatever you are doing, give thanks to the Lord. To think that the God of Eternity can be this Personal to call us by name to Himself and into His service is indeed cause of much thanksgiving!

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