This message was preached by Colin D Cruz at Word of Grace Church on July 12th 2015. To listen/download the audio please click here
In the last two weeks, we have looked at the models we can follow and emulate. We’ve looked at Timothy- highly commended by Paul; Epaphroditus- a brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier with Paul. Today, let’s look at Paul himself.
In Phil 2:17 he says, “but even if I am being poured out like a drink offering, on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you”
What does Paul mean when he is saying that he is being poured out like a drink offering? Pagan religions and Old Testament Judaism would offer sacrifices. They would take an animal, slaughter it and on top of it they would pour a drink offering of oil or wine.
In Numbers 28:1-8 we see this command for offerings and that it is a pleasing aroma to God. So Paul is saying to the Philippians that their troubles are the sacrifice and his suffering is a drink offering on top of it.
Q. what is your experience of Christianity?
Today we are living in an age of convenient, comfortable Christianity. We do not face persecution like what the Philippians and our other ancestors faced. Our lives are so different.
Q. Is your life a sweet smelling aroma to the Lord?
We are not talking about acceptance from God, but there is a life of sacrifice that God is looking for.
Q. Am I only going to do things in my Christian life that are convenient? Where is the sacrifice in our life?
I want to challenge us as a church that we take steps that cost us our time, energy and money. King David says, how can I sacrifice to God anything that costs me nothing?
Now, let’s look at Paul. He’s chained to a Roman soldier. How did he come into this position? Who is this Paul?
In Acts 8 Steven was stoned. He preached a sermon and the High Priest and Jewish elders decide that he needs to be stoned.
Saul was first mentioned in Acts 7:58. He witnessed Steven’s sermon and supported his stoning. After Steven’s death, a great persecution broke out in Jerusalem and Saul was on the scene from then on. As the persecution broke out, the Christians from Jerusalem were spread out in Judea and Samaria. It is interesting to note that the mandate of Acts 1:8 to take the gospel to Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth, is fulfilled in Acts 8:1 in a different way.
Saul was a Jew. The testimony of his conversion is mentioned 3 times in the New testament. He was Born in Tarsus- a Pharisee. Around the age of 30, he moved to Jerusalem to study under a Rabbi.
At that time, a male religious Jew would pray- “I thank you that you have not made me a gentile, a woman or a slave.” God takes this orthodox Jew, converts him and uses him powerfully.
Acts 9:2- “he went to the High Priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.”
Acts 8:3- “ But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.”
This was Saul.
Graham Staines came to India to serve the poorest of the poor. One day, a mob attacked him and hi 2 children. The three of them were burnt to death in his car. Saul was the kind of person who would have done set the car on fire. He wasn’t satisfied with Jerusalem and wanted to go to Damascus and imprison the Christians there.
But in Acts 9:3-4, he has an amazing divine encounter with the living God. A light flashed on him that was brighter than the middle-eastern sun. It blinded him.
We can think that there is no hope for such people. Then, we see God’s sovereign intervention in his conversion. It was initiated by God. He sent us the Holy Spirit and led us to repentance. He chose us.
Saul, in persecuting the church, knew about Jesus. He heard Steven. He was also a contemporary of Jesus. He must have been aware of Jesus. He is led to Damascus where he meets Ananias. In Acts 9:10, God tells Ananias to go to Saul.
Saul, who is Paul, is our model.
In Acts 9:11- we see that Saul was praying. There is a desire of communion with God.
Q. Are you having that communion with God?
The flesh is weak and life is busy, but let’s make this sacrifice and commune with Him.
What are the other things we can emulate from Paul’s life?
1. Paul heard the Gospel and was Born Again.
2. He was communing with God
3. He was Baptized in water. Baptism identifies you with Jesus. It is not needed for salvation, but it is the very first command Jesus gives you as a believer.
4. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul was a believer when he was baptized in the Holy Spirit.
5. He had fellowship. In Act 9:19, he spent several days with the believers in Damascus.
6. He began to preach. When we are a part of a body we have a function in the church.
This is the model for us to follow in the life of Paul. Are you living your life in service to the Lord? We have an opportunity to offer a sweet smelling aroma to God. It may mean giving, serving, preaching the gospel, etc. It is sacrificial and is pleasing to God.
Word of Grace is an Evangelical (Born Again), Spirit filled (Charismatic), Reformed, English speaking in Pune that upholds the Bible as God's inspired Word for life. We are a church community that have people from every part of India and parts of the world. We are here to put the Great Command and the into practice by equipping and releasing every member into works of service. To know about us please log onto www.wordofgracechurch.org.