Perfect Fit

John 16: 2 – 3

They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. And these things they will do, because they have not known the Father, or me.

Do you ever feel that you don’t quite fit in? I suppose most people feel that way at one time or another. If not, then we wouldn’t have so much conversation about being yourself and “fitting in”. Well, if you have ever felt that way, don’t worry. You are in very good company. Jesus didn’t fit. He was an outcast and in the eyes of the church leaders, most of his group was not fit for the Kingdom of God. Paul was a well-trained man of the church and though he was highly esteemed by the church at one time he was unacceptable in the eyes of God because he was persecuting all who believed in Jesus. Then he was converted in a very dramatic fashion. He became an important disciple of Christ but he was no longer in the grace of the church. So, as hard as it may sometimes be, do not fear and do not give up hope in our Lord because you don’t feel that you quite fit. Be you because that is who the Lord made you to be.

Seek God! Honestly search Him out! Chase Him with all your heart. When you have done that, He will make all things alright. You will find that He will teach you how valued you are in His sight. He will give you the acceptance that you so crave. Once you know in your heart of hearts that the Lord, our God, loves you just as you are, you can finally love yourself honestly and accept yourself just as He does. You are his precious no matter what anyone else says. And he loves you dearly. That is a promise.

The Gift that Gives Back

Philippians 4: 17

Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.

The Apostle Paul, in this passage and its accompanying scriptures, taught the Philippians about giving into the Lord’s work. But he was not only teaching them to give into the support of the ministry. He also taught them the principle of sowing and reaping. He told them in this excerpt that their gifts accrue to their own account. You see, God works according to multiplication. He takes what you have to sow and from that creates a harvest. So the Philippians’ gifts to Paul not only supported his ministry but they were also the means God had to get more substance into their hands. I heard Minister Jesse Duplantis say one time, “God isn’t trying to get something from you. He is trying to get something to you.” I think that is Paul’s message in this scripture. As God continues to multiply the harvest back to the sowers, they have their needs met and more besides to support more ministries, to send ministers into every need.

Flashing Lights

Acts 9: 3 – 4

And it came about that as he journeyed, he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground, and heard a voice.

Everyone needs a personal meeting with Christ Jesus. It is in this personal contact that we come to know the person of Jesus. Hopefully, most of us do not need a wakeup call as loud as Paul’s though. Paul could not hear the quiet voice of Jesus. He was too busy persecuting followers of Christ to hear the voice of the Lord. He was a zealot pursuing a course of action that he thought was right. Though he was trained in the law, he did not have a relationship with the Father. He never checked in with Father God about what he should be doing. He just decided in his own reasoning that he was protecting the church from heretics. As it turned out, he was far outside the will of God. After his encounter with Jesus though, he learned to follow the leading of the Lord in everything he did. His religion came alive on that Damascus road. It was no longer a book of the law to be rigorously followed; it became a relationship with a beloved Lord. In like manner, we all need to meet the Lord personally. We need to know him personally. That begins with recognizing that he is still alive. Jesus is not dead, he is resurrected. From there you have only to ask him to enter into a personal relationship with you. That is it. That is what this whole thing is about. If Christianity is a stale religion to you, I invite you to meet Jesus personally. Talk to him. The next thing you know, you will be walking in a deep love relationship with the one who loves you.

Abundant Grace

1 Timothy 1: 14                   (Amplified Version)

And the grace (unmerited favor and blessing) of our Lord actually flowed out superabundantly and beyond measure for me, accompanied by faith and love that are to be realized in Christ Jesus.

This passage was written by the Apostle Paul. He was recounting how he blasphemed the Lord and persecuted the church. Yet nonetheless, Christ, through grace, showed him mercy. How is it that the Lord was willing and able to show such kindness to this man even while he was torturing and murdering Christians? The mercy of the Lord and of our Father is beyond comprehension. Jesus poured out on Paul superabundant favor and blessing. It certainly was not because Paul earned it. It comes just from the Father’s deep love.

Paul, unlike so many modern Christians, was able to receive God’s abundance. Why? I believe the answer is two-fold. I think that one of the reasons Paul was able to receive God’s abundant, beyond measure grace is that he, first, completely knew that he was unworthy and undeserving. This freed him to just receive by grace. He did not try to earn God’s favor because he knew that he was way beyond that.

Secondly, I think that Paul was so humble and grateful that his heart was wide open before the Lord of grace. I deeply desire for the church to draw close to God just as Paul was intimate with him. We see the abundant love and grace that the Father has for us. Now if we can sincerely open ourselves to him the way Paul did, we might also walk in the kind of grace that was afforded Paul. Let us not wait for God to knock us off our donkeys though. Let us all, with blind faith, reach out to the source of all and invite him into the deepest part of our beings.

Divine Revelation

Galatians 1: 12

For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul did not have the advantage of walking with Christ the way Peter and John did. That is one of the reasons he is so important to modern theology and thought. Like us, everything Paul learned, he had to learn by revelation from Christ. 

Don’t get me wrong though. I am not saying that we can’t and don’t learn from the teachings of other people. We can receive revelation through other people and we receive revelation through the scriptures. Paul was well steeped in scripture himself having been trained at the most preeminent school available. However, he also knew how to get alone with Jesus in the spirit and receive divine revelation from him. 

Paul tells us in today’s passage that what he taught he received directly from Jesus as a divine revelation. Paul’s training taught him how to meditate in the scriptures and how to connect with the divine source. If you look at Paul’s teachings you will see that he often quoted Old Testament Scripture. My take on this is that He would pray and meditate on the scriptures. He would quiet his soul as we can observe David doing through the Psalms. In this quiet, meditative state, Paul connected with Jesus in the spiritual realm. Jesus taught him about the Kingdom of God; where it is, how it operates, and how we function in it. Then Paul must have lined these teachings up with scripture to make sure that what he received by divine revelation was consistent with what God spoke throughout the generations. This is the reason that Paul tied his teachings back to the Old Testament. Those old teachings were anchors for the revelation he received through his direct connection with Christ.

Paul’s experience is an exact model for us today. We do not get to walk in the flesh with Jesus either. However, Jesus is just as alive and just as real today and to us as he was to Paul in his time. We also need to receive divine revelation because we cannot sit at the campfire and ask him questions. We have two hindrances though; time and knowledge of the scriptures.

After Paul had his Damascus road experience he went away to the desert of Arabia to be alone. His whole theology, all of his education and training had been turned upside down by his spiritual encounter. He needed answers so he went to the desert to meditate and to be alone with Christ. Jesus met him in the quiet of his solitude and Jesus revealed himself to Paul. 

I am suggesting that we all need Jesus speaking into our lives. It is through the quiet, contemplative time spent with Jesus that we discover the bread of life. While not ignoring scriptures, we all need to connect with Jesus in the way that Paul did. In that connection is revelation for our lives.