Today we continue our series entitled, “Press through it! Yesterday I talked about some of the challenges the Apostle Paul had to go through in order to fulfill his divine purpose. I will flow in that same vein again today. Let’s look at what Paul said about some of the challenges:
The Apostle Paul said: “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Cor 11:23-27).
- Given 39 lashes with a cat of 9 tails five times. If you have seen the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” then you know how hard it was to even watch Jesus go through this ONCE, much less five times.
- Beaten with rods three times. I was hit by a stick once, by mistake, and it hurt. I could not imagine what it would feel like to intentionally be beaten with rods, by grown men, three different times.
- Stoned once. Believe me, once is enough. This is not just being hit by a rock by mistake. This is being intentionally pummeled by grown men with big stones. This normally kills people, but Paul survived it, because God was not through with him.
- Shipwrecked three times. After the second time I would not get on a boat with Paul. Paul was on a naval vessel that went down at sea on three different occasions. During one of them he wound up spending an entire night and a day in the open sea, holding on to a piece of the ship.
- Constantly on the move. God’s assignment for Paul required him to constantly move from place to place. This type of vagabond lifestyle cost him personally. Back then it was hard to maintain personal relationships while you were on the road. This was before phones, the internet, and all forms of modern communications. But it was part of his assignment, so he did it and he did it without complaining.
- In and out of prison. Paul wrote many of the letters we read in the Bible today from prison. Not from a nice office, not with the help of his secretary and not with the assistance of an editor. No, Paul was writing from Jail and even though he was enduring much personal pain, he kept focusing on his assignment from the Lord. His purpose was more important to him than his personal pleasure.
- A Soldier for Christ. Paul endured hunger, thirst, perilous times and treacherous people, all to complete his life’s purpose. What are you willing to endure?
So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1. God has given you the grace for it! One aspect of grace is God giving you what you do not deserve. Another aspect of grace is God empowering you to do what you could not do without Him. Whatever you are facing this morning, you have the grace for it. God has empowered you to endure and overcome!
2. You will never face something you don’t have the grace for. If God had not empowered you for it, you would not be facing it. The fact that you are facing it is evidence that God trusts you with it!
3. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you submit to God’s plan and embrace His grace. When you start walking out God’s divine purpose, and you do so by the grace of God, you will do more than you ever imagined. Your life will be greater than your wildest dreams. You will leave a mark in this world that will not easily be erased!
4. You won’t look like what you’ve been through. When people think of the Apostle Paul today, most only remember the divine impact he had on the world back then and the impact he continues to have today. Many Christians are not aware of the challenges he went through, because Paul never glorified the challenges. He glorified God. So when people dealt with Paul, they saw and felt God’s glory. They were not necessarily aware of what he had been through. The point for you today is that you will not look like what you have been through either. While becoming the man/woman God called you to be is not going to be easy, and you will have to endure and overcome, when you finally get there people will have no idea of what you have been through. They will see your glory, but they won’t know your story. Why? Because when you walk with God you can walk through the fire and come out on the other side NOT EVEN SMELLING LIKE SMOKE! I’m a witness! You don’t have to look like what you’ve been through. You can press through all sorts of challenges and still come out with a smile on your face, a song in your heart and a spring in your step!
Declaration of Faith:
Father, I learn from Paul. Paul endured things that would have killed the average human, but You graced him to endure and overcome. You gave Paul a difficult assignment and along with the assignment, You gave him the grace to complete it, even though he had to face seemingly insurmountable opposition. Paul was able to do it, because he did not face his challenges with his own strength. Paul relied on Your grace and I will do the same. I am determined to arrive at Your desired final destination for my life. Nothing can stop me, because You are with me. No matter what I face, I face it knowing that I have GRACE FOR IT! I will walk through the fire and come out on the other side not even smelling like smoke! I declare this by faith! In Jesus’ name. Amen. I declare this by faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This is Today’s Word. Apply it and prosper!