Summary: Paul is motivated to preach the Gospel, even in the midst of harsh realities. Learn to see your ministry as significant and special, and do not build your worth or significance upon the state of your ministry.
Paul did not really have a good start into the Christian life and ministry
• Not like many of us, we are brought up in the church, we know Christ from young. We are placed in Christian families with good Christian environment.
• But that wasn’t Paul’s experience. He fought Christianity and was forced to eat humble pie when Jesus appeared personally to him. He was blinded and converted but entered into a church with few friends.
• Many did not want to accept him. In fact, some tried to kill him, for all the bad things he did in the past.
He went away to Tarsus for few years of ‘personal’ retreat, and then returned to the church.
• Not long, the Lord visited the church and called them to set aside Paul and Barnabas and send them off as missionaries to the regions beyond.
• This was a specific ministry that the Lord had prepared for Paul. When he was converted, the Lord said to Ananias that “this man is my chosen instrument to carry my Name before the Gentiles and their kinds and before the people of Israel.” (9:15).
• We expected everything to be good, right? No. Not so. Paul faced difficulties at every turn in his journey.
• A sorcerer opposed him in Paphos (island of Cyrus). In Pisidian Antioch the Jews “were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying.” (13:45)
• 13:50 they stirred up persecution against them and expelled them from the region.
• Now in Iconium, despite the signs and wonders, 14:5 says there was a plot to mistreat them and stone them, so they fled.
And this is just the beginning, there are more to come.
• How do like this for a start to your ministry?
• You know you are gifted in certain area and you start to serve in a ministry. You think everybody will appreciate you, and will be very happy with what you are doing. But no, there is always someone who ‘talked abusively against’ you.
• You think everybody will be supportive but no, some did not like the way you talk, or the things you say.
That was what Paul was facing. Amazingly he did not give up. He wasn’t disillusioned or discouraged by what he was receiving from the people.
• “The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (13:52)
• But why? Didn’t he question God? Why did you call me into this and had me face ridicule, persecution, and life threats?
• I believe Paul was able to sustain in the ministry and “finished the race” because of the way he looked at his calling of God, his ministry.
The way you see yourself and your ministry affects everything you do.
• Paul believes that what he is doing is important and valuable to God. He was on a special assignment, given to him ‘personally’ by the Lord Jesus.
The way you value your ministry is important. How should you look at it?
1. YOU HAVE A SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT
• He said to Timothy in 1 Tim 1:12 “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.”
Have you ever been chosen to represent your school or varsity? The coach says, “I want you to be on my team.” Isn’t that great! You feel elated, you feel honoured.
• The higher up in the echelon, the greater that sense. If the national team wants you, you are going to represent Singapore in the YOG or something, it will really be special.
• It’s an honour, and you’ll tell yourself, “I’m not going to disappoint the nation; do well.”
Paul saw himself as carrying a special assignment given to him directly by Jesus Christ.
• He was on a mission from God, with a unique role and specific tasks.
• This perspective caused him to greatly value his ministry and to believe that what he was doing was very significant for the Kingdom of God.
• To Paul, serving God was the highest calling on earth and he was grateful for the opportunity to do so.
With this kind of attitude, Paul could endure difficulties and persecutions, knowing that he was carrying out God’s plan for his life.
• Do you are that sense today, because you can. You can have the same sense of honour and privilege in your ministry today.
• Paul says to Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you ‘cos you are young…” (1 Tim 4:12)
• You are saved to make a positive difference here on earth right now, not just to go to heaven when you die.