*Some call it a quiet time. We call it a Vision Quest. This is a simple Bible study to help you along your journey of discovering God’s purpose for your life.
Unfiltered, uncensored, uncalculated and totally raw is the means to spiritual breakthrough. Here are four areas that Paul daily embraced that transformed him into a spiritually powerful man.
An Opportunity for God to Shine
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who gave me strength, because he trusted me and gave me this work of serving him. In the past I spoke against Christ and persecuted him and did all kinds of things to hurt him. But God showed me mercy, because I did not know what I was doing. I did not believe. But the grace of our Lord was fully given to me, and with that grace came the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. What I say is true, and you should fully accept it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. But I was given mercy so that in me, the worst of all sinners, Christ Jesus could show that he has patience without limit. His patience with me made me an example for those who would believe in him and have life forever. To the King that rules forever, who will never die, who cannot be seen, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. Timothy, my child, I am giving you a command that agrees with the prophecies that were given about you in the past. I tell you this so you can follow them and fight the good fight. Continue to have faith and do what you know is right. Some people have rejected this, and their faith has been shipwrecked.
1 Timothy 1:12-19
God has the ability to even use sin for his glory. God chose Paul because he was uniquely sinful and that would teach the world, about God’s unfailing love.
God is trying to teach us that the more we embrace our sins and weaknesses, the more relatable we become, and the more hope we can give others.
Do you see embracing truth as a threat or an opportunity?
Embracing the Grace
For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10
Grace cannot be fully embraced until we are at peace with the depth of our weaknesses and faults. Too many seek to ‘feel’ grace without acknowledging before God and men the depth of their sins.
The way you know you’ve embraced God’s grace isn’t a feeling, it’s a devotion to putting in ‘spiritual work’. Paul’s recognition of forgiveness created an ambition in him to express his love to God through repentance.
Do you spend more time in life focused on what you ‘deserve’ or are you focused on ‘working hard’ to show gratitude to God?
Embrace the Struggle
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Too often, we can believe that the longer we are Christians, the less sin we will have. This was clearly not Paul’s experience.
After many years of being a Christian, what was Paul’s view of his spiritual condition?
Are you someone who tries to portray that you no longer struggle with particular sins, or are you someone who admits deeper layers of your core sins?
A conviction about the cross is built and sustained by embracing our struggle to be righteous.
Embrace Your Weaknesses
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
God’s pathway to showing his power is through our weaknesses.
What does it mean to delight in weaknesses, hardships, etc? What would it look like to boast about your weaknesses at work? At home? How is God calling you to embrace the weaknesses of others?
Whenever we are full of ourselves (conceited), it’s because we’ve drifted into denial about who we are.
Embrace Your Destiny
Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.
God had a destiny for us before we were born, and he’s continually working to communicate that destiny to us.
How much do you rely on human beings to communicate God’s destiny for your life? What has God prepared you for your entire life to do? Do you look for ways that God was moving in your life, before you became a Christian?
A Destiny I Didn’t Ask For – Paul obviously did not set out to become an Apostle of Jesus. He had to give up his personal dream that was progressing, to take on God’s dream.
Are you willing to wrestle with your personal dreams to embrace God’s destiny?
How can you pray with gratitude about God’s grace on you?