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Here’s A Thought for Jan. 25

When you stand as Jesus before others you will begin to become as Jesus to others in order that they may see in you who Jesus really is.

The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 1:19-24, “I saw none of the other apostles — only James, the Lord’s brother. 20  I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21  Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22  I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23  They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ 24  And they praised God because of me.”

Jesus had a brother? The guy who tried to snuff out the first Christians became one of their greatest champions? Who knew? Saul the persecutor of Christians didn’t become Paul the missionary and author of a substantial portion of the New Testament overnight. He spent time alone with God before, during and after his conversion. He had more than a few rough edges and hard corners for the Lord to soften.

Galatians Chapter 1 surveys the geographical, theological, interpersonal and (most importantly) spiritual landscape outlined by Paul. The places mentioned and the issues behind the scenes read like the most recent headlines: infighting, tension in the Holy Land, enemies suddenly become friends.

When you open the Bible and read it you encounter truth that is both timeless and universal. When we believe the Bible is true, even as we are challenged by its demands, we are changed. Just as it takes faith to grasp truth belief precedes transformation. Clear teaching, proclamation and understanding of the good news is the beginning of transformation. People witnessed Paul being changed. It began with the voice of Jesus combined with a lightning bolt knocking him off his horse. It ended … well actually it hasn’t ended yet. Do people praise God because of you?

Consider what Maxie Dunnam says about this passage “To take the time to face ourselves and to face God is essential for all, but evaded by most. We often symbolize being alone with ourselves and with God, in order to face ourselves and God openly and honestly, as spending time in the desert … that we experience it as the reality of being alone with ourselves and God — questioning, clarifying, testing, committing, and cleansing is absolutely necessary.”

It almost sounds old fashioned: spending time alone with God — time in the desert — something to endure while you wait for times of refreshing. One does not come without the other If the commentator is right (and I think he is) time alone is time well spent because ultimately you’re not alone; well spent because only when you face yourself (in facing God) can you genuinely be with someone else. No doubt this was a rhythm practiced by Paul both before and after he set aside his sword and took up his pen.

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