Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Galatians 1:18-24 “...they glorified God because of me.”

These days, many ministers and pastors will have a D.D, Doctorate of Divinity. As Jon Courson says, Paul had a “Doctorate of the Desert.” Courson reminds us that this is a common degree among our Bible heroes: Moses, John the Baptist, and Jesus all spent time in the desert. Sometimes a desert can be a place of much growth!

Courson points out that it was while the Apostle John was exiled on the Isle of Patmos, a rocky, barren, seemingly God-forsaken island, that John saw Jesus revealed and wrote the Book of Revelation. And it was in the desert that Paul received his training from the LORD.

If you are in a place of dryness, a place in which you feel isolated, and you can’t figure out why God has placed you there, maybe the LORD wants to reveal Himself to you in a fresh way. Jesus said that we should come to Him if we thirst. The desert is the perfect place to appreciate the refreshing satisfaction that His Word gives. Dive into it to see Him in a new way this year.

After he had spent that time in the desert and Damascus, Paul finally made his way to Jerusalem to meet with Peter:

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [ Peter ] and remained with him fifteen days.  But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother.  (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)  Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.  And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.  They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”  And they glorified God because of me. (Galatians 1:18-24)

Paul spent a short time with Peter and James. Don’t you wish we could see those visits? Peter must have had doubts about meeting with this man who had tried to destroy the followers of Christ. Think of his amazement at seeing the transformed life of Paul! And Paul must have loved hearing Peter’s stories about his three years living and ministering with Jesus!

Then Paul set out to preach in Syria and Cilicia. He did not need to spend time in Judea, because the gospel was already being preached there. He did not attempt to build a following where others were already spreading the good news. He had been called to preach to the Gentiles, and he knew where he belonged. Yet, even though he did not preach to the Judean churches, they glorified God because of what He had done in Paul’s life! That must have been such an encouragement to Paul.

How important it is that we give God glory for the growth we see in other believers (and for our own growth). And equally important is that we let fellow believers know when we see their transformation. Wouldn’t you love to hear that people glorify God because of the changes they have seen in your life? 

Change is one of the qualifying characteristics of life, scientifically speaking. And, surely, it is the sign of spiritual life in believers. As we move into 2014, let’s pray for the kind of transformation in our lives that makes people notice and causes them to glorify God. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our family members, neighbors, and co-workers witnessed the power of grace in our lives? Our transformation might lead to theirs!  

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