I don't know why I am so surprised that the great apostle Paul was afraid. Perhaps it's because I can still see him portrayed in stained glass windows or icons with a beatific look on his face and a halo over his head, referred to as Saint Paul. How could one as great as Paul ever have dealt with what I deal with - discouragement, fear and disillusionment. Yet he did and God did not seem to be turned away by Paul's humanity. In fact, God helped him at his weakest moments.
Paul had five visits from angels and one from the Lord Jesus Himself, the latter on the Damascus Road. The purpose of each visit was to encourage Paul in His God-given purpose. It was not to tell him how much God loved Him or to build Paul's self-esteem. It was to lift Paul out of the pit from which he had descended. Let's look at two of those heavenly visitations:
One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God" (Acts 18:9-11).
After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island" (Acts 27:21-26)
In both instances, Paul was trying to fulfill His purpose against what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles. God appeared to Paul not to get Paul started, but to keep him going and moving. When Paul had done all he could do and fell into fear, God stepped in and did what only He can do.
You may be looking for encouragement from the Lord to get started on your purpose. If that's the case, you may be waiting for quite a while. It seems that God dispenses His encouragement to those who are in active pursuit of purpose and not those who are cowering in fear that prevents them from getting started. It is natural to be fearful, as we discussed last week. It is not godly or natural to give into unwarranted fears about failure, criticism or lack of resources.In some ways, you must earn God's encouragement by acting on your purpose.
Is that you? Are you waiting for God to provide what only you can, and that is your effort and action? Are you requiring God to confirm one more time on top of all the other confirmations that you are in His will? It's time to deal with your fears and then act, and God will meet you more than halfway. If you continue to sit on the sidelines, however, waiting on the Lord, you may be waiting for an encouragement bus that is not coming or stopping for you. Follow in the steps of Paul this week and step out! When you do, I know God will give you all the encouragement as you go. God is not turned off by your fears, only when your fears lead to inaction. Have a great week!
IT'S TIME FOR KENYA: Well, the time has come for my departure. I leave for Kenya this Thursday and will be there until February 15. There is still time to give. In fact, I still need you to give to reach my faith goals of how to bless the Kenyan people. If you can help, please give through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you!
DAILY DEVOTIONAL: My new daily devotional is getting a lot of attention and I need 13 subscribers to reach 1,000. Check it out here and then consider subscribing so that you receive it every day.
FACEBOOK: Please go to my PurposeQuest International ministry page on Facebook and give me a "Like." I will be transitioning a lot of my ministry stuff I currently place on my personal FB page to that ministry page soon.
ISRAEL: The time to register for my September pilgrimage is now! Attached is the brochure. Let me know if you are going for space for the trip will disappear soon. The brochure is attached below.
PURPOSECOACH: I have resurrected my PurposeCoach program, but this time put it all online to make it easier and more streamlined for you. I am offering a special price of $99 for the program, which includes some listening, some reading and some connecting time with me. That special expires this Thursday, January 31. You can pay for your PurposeCoach Program via Paypal or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8881, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0881. Make the investment in your life today. I am attaching a FAQ sheet concerning PurposeCoach, along with an enrollment application, below.