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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Philippians 3:10..."That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death..."

How about that? We can understand Paul's passion to 'know Him, and the power of His resurrection', but to honestly desire the fellowship of His sufferings? Most people prefer to flee suffering, yet the apostle actually YEARNS for it, because he knows that in it, he more perfectly identifies with his Lord, and the suffering that he refers to is all the direct result of his overt and aggressive stand for Jesus Christ.

What exactly is the secret to Paul's overwhelming devotion to Christ? We've seen that he had an uncommon passion for his Savior, and a sincere love that most Christians wish that THEY had. Well, the 'secret' (and the truth) is that every single believer who desires this passion, this devotion, this love- may have it, may experience it, may receive it and give it out freely to others (the natural outflow of receiving), but how?

I've already mentioned how greatly I admire the apostle Paul, but the truth is that the apostle himself was not the author of the divine love in his own heart! Let's look at Acts 9:1-6..."And Saul (the name he was then known by), yet breathing threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way (followers of Christ), whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven; and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. An d he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do."

Here Paul (Saul) is spending much of his time and energy attempting to destroy all the Christians he can, yet in a second, he is on the ground asking Jesus what He would have him do! It was the Lord Himself who simply but powerfully intervened, and Paul was changed- forever changed- from that moment on- transformed from an enemy of God to a powerfully used apostle of that same Almighty God!

You see, only God Himself can truly change a heart and life by His Spirit, and He is able to take the lowest, the most selfish, the meanest, the most unlikely of people, and not only make him or her His child, but to give that believer a love that that one has never before known, or even thought possible!

Christian, do you want to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Do you want a Paul-like passion for Jesus that is genuine? Then understand that it is the Holy Spirit in you, drawing you to that desire for Him, and simply surrender to Him. You are not the author of this wonderful love, but you may have as much of it as you will, and as you receive it, you'll find that you're also giving it out to others, and THIS is true ministry! There is no telling what God will do in and through you- just ask the apostle Paul!

En Agape,
Pastor Jim Ewing