“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough to be a Christian–let alone do any good works for God–because of your track record? Let me tell you a secret: the Bible was written by a bunch of messed up people.
From David, to Solomon, to Peter, to Paul–the bad stuff these saints did who wrote the Bible could fill up a long list! Let’s take for example, the apostle Paul. He wrote most of the New Testament, however, Paul never met Jesus in person during His short ministry on earth.
After Jesus ascended? Yes. Paul had an explosive confrontation with Christ in the flesh on the road to Damascus (see Acts 9). But before that? No. Paul was not even one of Jesus’ original disciples. Actually, he is the only apostle to write letters which were included in the canonization of the Bible who didn’t sit under Jesus’ teaching. The very word apostle means “a person who saw Jesus in the flesh and was taught by Him,” but Paul didn’t learn anything from Christ until Jesus’ body had already disappeared into the clouds (see Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9).
Before his encounter with Christ, Paul was a persecutor of the early church! He was an Old Testament, Law-abiding legalist in the fullest! He said so himself! (See Philippians 3:4-6). Paul didn’t go to the places Jesus went as He taught the masses. Paul didn’t see Christ walking the countryside, healing people. He wasn’t even a witness to a single miracle Christ performed; and he wasn’t there when Jesus died or rose from the dead. Instead, he was probably in the crowd of legalistic Jews who yelled out, “Crucify Him!” as Jesus stood on trial!
Paul was a messed up, Christian-hating Jew! As a matter of fact, he oversaw with delight the very first believer being killed for their faith, Stephen, as he was stoned to death (see Acts 7). The same man who wrote most of the famous Bible verses you and I quote all the time to help build up our faith, he tore down as many believers as he possibly could! He went from city to city, persecuting Christians on a grand scale, and throwing them in prison. So what happened? He crossed the path of Jesus.
Paul, whose name was originally Saul–before he became a Christian–had a severe disdain and disrespect for Christ. But that didn’t stop Jesus from calling him to the Light Side! Jesus still had a wonderful plan and a purpose for his life! Christ had a way for Paul to find real joy, real peace, real confidence, and real love! None of that religious stuff, but a real relationship with God!
In Acts 9, when Paul was on his way to Damascus to terrorize more Christians, Jesus personally stopped him! To make a long story short, Paul finally came to know Jesus for who He really is. Afterwards, his entire life was never the same as he went from persecutor to promotor.
Paul went from hating Jesus the worst, to respecting Him the most—just as if he was an actual disciple! What’s so neat to me is that Jesus specially reached out to a bounty-hunter of Christians and said, “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name” (see Acts 9:15).
After He did, the newest apostle went on to establish tons of roots for the gospel–that might be the biggest understatement I’ve written in a while. Paul did more work for God than perhaps any other apostle—ever! Jesus is calling you to do the same!
No matter what you’ve done or where you’re at in life, Jesus wants to use you to help fulfill His good purpose! (See Philippians 2:13). What is His good purpose? To bring spiritually dead people to life! To stock the halls of heaven with souls! To teach people just how completely forgiven they really are! To establish a joy, peace, and confidence in the lives of the lost! Christ wants to live through you! Yes, I’m talking to you!
So today, my friends, know this: God is not upset, worried, or mad about your checkered past–just look at Paul. I’m sure you aren’t running around killing Christians, but even if you are, Paul is proof that God still has a plan for your life. God is not only not upset about your past, but He wants to use your past for your purpose! I look back at how jacked up so many different parts of my life was, and then I see what God has done with those parts of my past–and I’m proud I went through it! You’ll never know how to help others unless you’ve gone through what they are currently going through! So if you don’t know Him yet, if He isn’t living inside your body by grace through faith–STOP!…Stop running from Jesus!…Just stand still, and turn around…He’s right there…saying, “C’mon. Let’s go do some wonderful, eternal things, together.”
A prayer for you: God, today I want to thank you for never giving up on me. Although my spirit was saved, my unrenewed mindsets fought you like a madman. Out of all those times I thought I was alone because of my terrible behavior, I wasn’t. You were still there with me, inside me. Thank you for never leaving me. Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who don’t know you and haven’t yet accepted your free gift of spiritual perfection, help them. Like you did for Paul, do whatever it takes to get their attention, and let them know it’s you. Paul was such a messed up person, but you still loved him and reached out to him. I know you’re doing the same for people right now. Give them a new purpose, in Christ. Give them a new life, in Christ. I know you will! We love you! Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!