Sunday, June 9, 2013

Laying It Down

I am thanking God for Paul today. He is an example to follow. What amazes me most is how God had great and mighty plans for Paul, but Paul was playing for the enemy. 

Paul, formerly known as Saul, was a man who persecuted Christians until  he met God on his way to Damascus. Then his life changed completely (Acts 9:1-19).  A man who had a known reputation of persecuting the saints. became "my (God's) chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel, I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." (Acts 9:15-16)

Paul was God's "chosen instrument" and indeed he did suffer. That day, on Damascus road, Paul was called to lay down his life for the cause of Christ and that is exactly what he did. God calls us to that as well. Jesus says in Matthew 16:24 "Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."" This command is repeated numerous times in the New Testament: 

Matthew 10:38-39 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

Mark 8:34-35 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself  and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. (see also Luke 9:23-24)

Luke 14:27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 

Paul endured more suffering and torture for the sake of the gospel than I can even imagine- imprisonment in filthy prisons, beaten, stoned, tortured and more-all for Jesus. And through it all Paul rejoiced and encouraged his fellow believers in Christ. He called himself a "prisoner of Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:1 and Philemon 1:1).  I am thankful for the words he wrote mostly while imprisoned. As the end of the school year is approaching, these verses have become an encouragement to me:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 3:13-14

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:1-2

God calls us to lay it all down, to surrender ourselves to Him-moment by moment, day by day. It can only be done through His Spirit within us, but it is a choice we have to make. We cannot love both the world and God. Choosing God, becoming holy as He is holy, is incomparable, unparalleled and unmatched to anything this world offers. 

It is not easy, it requires sacrifice, but I have found that the rewards far outweigh anything that the world says I am missing out on. It is a daily battle, a dying to flesh, but God is beyond worth it. 

I leave you with these words from Paul that he wrote in 1 Timothy 1:12-17: 

I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 

Linking with Titus 2 Tuesday

1 comment:

  1. Hey Krys, thanks so much for sharing with us again this week at One Sharendipity Place. I believe I have found a blogging kindred spirit f or you! Her name is Jen and she writes at Being Confident of This. She just started a month ago, and I think you two should visit together. (I encouraged her to come visit you too, so you hopefully will hear from her soon. :)
    Sue @