Note from Jesus
By his own admission, Paul came to Corinth with very little personal confidence. He wrote:
I came to you in weakness — timid and trembling.
(1 Corinthians 2:3 NLT)
In the verses below from Acts, Luke shared that Paul’s work in Corinth began with difficulty, especially among his fellow Jews who “stopped listening and began insulting him.”
However, Paul’s ministry and leadership were vital to the success of the early church and its mission, especially to the Gentiles. Despite the opposition he faced in Macedonia and “the great turmoil” he endured in Athens, I planned to use him to make a huge difference in Corinth. So I gave him these words of encouragement in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Paul. Speak! Don’t be silent! I am with you, and no one will lay a finger on you to harm you. I have many in this city who are already My people.”
My words of encouragement helped Paul regain his confidence. He remained in Corinth for a longer time than he had originally planned. He increased his spiritual investment in the people of this strategic city. He blessed these precious new believers. With his follow-up letters and visits, Paul helped these Christians deal with difficult problems. He challenged them to live for Me with spiritual passion in a city known for its immorality and depravity. Despite the early problems the church in Corinth faced, it soon became an example of cross-centered grace that comes to life in My followers.
So where are you in your faith and commitment?
- Are you discouraged?
- Are you frustrated?
- Are you facing opposition from a hostile culture?
- Are you dealing with problems in a congregation with many new believers?
- Are you needing to know that your efforts at reaching the lost and at growing new disciples are not in vain?
Ask Me to help you!
Ask Me to help you find assurance. Ask Me to help you find clarity. Ask Me to help you live out My will in your community and through your personal mission. Speak to Me openly about your concerns. Admit your lack of confidence and ask to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Admit your fears and misgivings. Paul admitted his failings to Me and revealed many of them to others through his letters. Admission of failure is not an admission of defeat or faithlessness, but of recognition. It is the recognition of the enormity of the task, the difficulty of the challenges, the greatness of the opportunity, and your insufficiency in being able to live out My mission for you on your own!
Paul would later talk about the source of his power in the face of his own insufficiency. His words are not only beautiful in imagery and meaning, but also powerfully true:
For God, Who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
(2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NLT)
Verses to Live
I long to give assurance to those who seek to follow me. Moses needed reassurance that the Father would go with him into the wilderness to lead Israel, and the Father gave it to him (Exodus 33:12-23). The Father gave assurance to Joshua when he was called to lead the people of Israel after Moses’ death (Joshua 1:6-18). The essence of the promises to both Moses and Joshua was reiterated for you by the writer of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 13:5-6). The Father gave Me assurance after My baptism and before I faced My temptation (Luke 3:21-22). As you read these verses below, remember that I gave reassurance to Paul. Yes, I long to give assurance to you, too! So, ask for it! Seek My will. Knock on the door of grace and find it opened to you (Matthew 7:7-11).
From Athens, Paul traveled to Corinth alone. He found a Jewish man there named Aquila, originally from Pontus. Aquila and his wife Priscilla had recently come to Corinth from Italy because Claudius had banished all Jews from Rome. Paul visited them in their home and discovered they shared the same trade of tent making. He then became their long-term guest and joined them in their tentmaking business. Each Sabbath he would engage both Jews and Greeks in debate in the synagogue in an attempt to persuade them of his message.
Eventually Silas and Timothy left Macedonia and joined him in Corinth. They found him fully occupied by proclaiming the message, testifying to the Jewish people that Jesus was God’s Anointed, the Liberating King. Eventually, though, some of them stopped listening and began insulting him. He shook the dust off his garments in protest.
OK. I’ve done all I can for you. You are responsible for your own destiny before God. From now on, I will bring the good news to the outsiders!
He walked out of the synagogue and went next door to the home of an outsider, Titius Justus, who worshiped God. Paul formed a gathering of believers there that included Crispus (the synagogue leader) and his whole household and many other Corinthians who heard Paul, believed, and were… washed through baptism. One night Paul had a vision in which he heard the Lord’s voice.
Do not be afraid, Paul. Speak! Don’t be silent! I am with you, and no one will lay a finger on you to harm you. I have many in this city who are already My people.
After such turmoil in previous cities, these words encouraged Paul to extend his stay in Corinth, teaching the message of God among them for a year and six months.
Response in Prayer
O Almighty Father, I am not sufficient to fulfill my mission. I am weak. I sometimes stumble and sin. I am an unworthy vessel for the grace You have asked me to share with others. However, through the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave me as a gift when I was saved, I trust that Your power will be displayed perfectly in my weakness. I trust that Your Word will be received as life-giving despite my frailties. I trust that Your grace will be found sufficient in my insufficiency. I trust, O Lord, that you will give me both the strength and the assurance I need to serve You and bring others to know You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.