By Jeff Cloeter
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power (Ephesians 3:7 ESV).
Paul, by all appearances, was not a first-round draft pick. If the Christian church were a playground team at recess, he was most likely to be the last one picked. Paul was acquired by God even though he was the star player on the opposing team.
Before he was Paul, his name was Saul. Saul denied that Christ was anything more than a con man, and he opposed anyone who dared to promote the Christian message. With fury and violence, he led an assault against the early Christian church.
This is why Saul’s conversion was so remarkable. An encounter with Jesus while traveling on a road to the city of Damascus transformed him. That same Christ-hating Saul wrote under the name Paul, “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace” (Ephesians 3:7 ESV).
Only God can turn his enemies into his agents. Only God, by grace, can flip foes into friends and Sauls into Pauls.
If you ever are tempted to pridefully think you somehow deserve your status before God, remember that you had nothing to do with it. It is a gift, by grace. If you ever despair that God could never accept you after all you’ve done, remember Saul. Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15 KJV). The same God who chose Saul has chosen you.
Prayer: Lord, you’ve been so good to me, chief of sinners. By your grace alone, I ask you to use me as part of your church to be a messenger of this good news. Amen.
Editor’s note: Today’s devotion comes from CTA’s small-group series Together: Living as Christ’s Church. January is the perfect time to kick of a new series and encourage your small groups to emphasize an outward focus for the New Year!
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