How Is God Preparing You?

How Is God Preparing You?

We’ve been talking about the life of Paul. And we’ve been going through
a whole lot of history. And you’re like, “Okay, what
does that apply to me?” And I think this one is really,
really going to apply to you. Because, depending on what
you are facing right now, I’m sure you’ve got some kind of challenge, you’ve got something
ahead of you. And you’re like, “Is this what
God has in mind for me? Or does God have bigger plans for me?” God, in this section that
we’re going to look at, is preparing Paul, I believe, to do such amazing things. So, God has already prepared Paul
in a couple different ways. First of all, he is born in this
family that is very, very strict. So they would have understood
the scriptures very, very well. They would have read the Torah regularly. They would have spent time in the synagogue. They would have gone through prayers. And you can even see
that, like in Corinthians. He’s taking Jewish prayers and,
kind of like, applying it to Christ. And so he’s laying this foundation
and then he has this. He already finds this zealous person. So he’s preparing Paul in that way. He’s preparing Paul in another way. In that, not only is he Jewish, but he’s a Roman citizen. And we know from other
places, and other sources, that some of the philosophers,
the Greek philosophers under persecution, had to
flee to different places. And one of those places was Tarsus. So later on when he’s talking in Athens, or he’s talking to the Greek philosophers, it is not a surprise that Paul is able
to go toe for toe with them. In fact, Paul is trained under one of
the great rabbis of the day, Gamaliel. And so we have all these
things kind of adding up. Plus he’s an intellectual giant. He is able to lecture. He’s able to argue. He is able to articulate his points. He knows Scripture from memory. He is able to preach. He is able to do amazing things. And suffer a great amount of stuff. So, suffering, plus he’s Jewish, plus he’s Roman, he understands all these languages. All these things are
coming to a head right now. So God takes this man who
is so against the Christian faith and so against Jesus and
totally flips him around. And you can imagine that in your life. God has flipped around every one of us. It’s really what repentance is. It’s the changing of direction. And he’s taken Paul and says, “I’ve got a new use for you.” And so Paul’s excited, right? Remember, he went to
go preach immediately. And then he spends time in Arabia. And then he goes back
and he’s ready to preach. He’s ready to hit it. And God says, “Not yet.” So people threaten to kill him. So he leaves and he goes to Jerusalem. And he’s ready to preach. He’s ready to go at it. And God says, “Not yet.” And my guess, in your life is you’ve had plenty of moments where
you’re kind of like ready to go. And God says, “Not quite yet. I have some preparing to do for the bigger plans that I have in mind.” We see this a lot in history. And then I want to get
to how God used that time. I was reading a Malcom Gladwell
book, this was a number of years ago. But he talked about the 10,000 hour rule. Which is basically to become
an expert in a field, you need 10,000 hours. Like, okay. So he game examples,
and it’s Malcom Gladwell, so it’s always a little bit of
a stretch and push here but, he said the Beatles, for example,
played 10,000 hours worth of shows. I read a book by Steve Martin, “Born Standing
Up”, if you’ve ever read that book, he talks about all the
ground work that happened as a comedian and testing these
jokes and doing all these things. And then the moment came. He said of wild success. And the problem was when
he’s at this high point is he can’t even test his jokes anymore. Because he’s supposed to be funny. That’s kind of a hard deal. Instead of practice, practice, practice, go. This is how God does this, I think,
in the Apostle Paul’s life. He now knows that Jesus is the true God. And so, in Jerusalem remember,
he starts to preach. And he’s about to die. And so the Christians there say, “Listen. You’ve got to go. You’re
such a hot button person. You’ve got to get out of here.” So they send him all the way to Tarsus, in modern day Turkey. And he starts to spend time there. What would he do there? We can only guess. But I would guess a number of things. He spends time in the family business. He’s a tent maker. And they take goat hair and they
make different tents for, like, travelers. Because there’s no hotels. You have to kind of carry
your travel with you. Your tent with you. So I would guess he works
in the family business. Spends time in Scriptures connecting what
he knew from memory. Connecting what he saw, like in Isaiah, “I’m a light to the Gentiles,” right? And connecting that to
what is reality in Jesus. And sometimes that takes
one, two, maybe 10,000 hours. He is in, and maybe you don’t know this, but the Apostle Paul, from that moment is in Tarsus for roughly eight to ten years. Eight to ten years, I’m
sure he was still preaching. I’m sure he’s trying to convert. Because we hear about some churches. But, for the most part, I would guess God was just using that
time for him to refine his skill and refine his understanding and to grow closer and closer to him. Because the things
that God calls him to do and the suffering he is about to embark on takes a deep, deep base in Christ and an understanding
that this is absolutely true. And all the connections to the Old Testament. So where’s the takeaway for you? Where God has you right
now I am not sure. But maybe God has big, way,
way bigger things for you. And this is just a time of learning, right? It’s not leadership. And where we’re at in life isn’t just
mountain to mountain to mountain. Sometimes there’s a point in
the valley where God grows us, that’s where the grass is, someone just told me. And so fill up on God’s grace. Fill up on your understanding
of who Jesus is. Grow closer and closer to him so that you are ready
when the moment comes when God has bigger things for you. Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Thank you for Paul. We see an example of
someone who is zealous. And we see someone who has so many things
lined up to prepare for a moment in time. So that he could be your missionary, your
instrument. We pray that we take this time,
if it’s a down time, seriously. So that we grow closer to you, that we grow in our abilities. So that when the moment
comes and we’re able to do that, we can shine. And not shine for our own glory but instead, you are a light
to the Gentiles and you can be a light to this world through our witness of you and what Christ has done
for each of us on the cross. We ask this in your name. Amen.

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1 Comment

  1. Very Encouraging. I struggle with masturbation and mental illness. I get so angry with GOD sometimes. But my heart will forever be open to christ.

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