Paul had received a lot of bad press over the last 2000 years. But he is quite possibly one of the most authentic Christian leaders the world has ever seen.
The Apostle Paul:
1) Paul was born a Roman Citizen (from Tarsus, present day Turkey).
2) As a Roman Citizen, Paul had the right to speak in public, the right to travel throughout the Roman world.
3) Paul has the right to not be imprisoned without a trial.
4) Paul was born in Tarsus as a Jew and was raised in Jerusalem.
5) Paul was a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee. Pharisees were the people who were the strict religious followers who were very well educated on both traditional schooling and biblical backing.
6) Paul studied under Gamaliel who was one of the eminent Jewish teachers at the time.
7) Paul had been taught to hold his convictions with absolute passion.
Paul was trained since a child to be zealous about God. "I persecuted the followers of this way (meaning Christianity) to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison." Acts 22:4
Paul was at first passionate about persecuting the early Christians. "I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them." Acts 26:9-10
So What Difference Does All This Make To Our Lives? Think about Winston Churchill for a minute. He stated, when looking on the experiences of WWII, that all of his previous life and experiences had merely been preparation for his service during the war. The Bible teaches that everything that happens in our lives is a preparation for what is to come.
Look at the life of Joseph. He was thrown into prison, sold into slavery by his brothers, but then became 2nd in command over the nation of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh himself. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28 KJV). This is one of the greatest verses in the Bible to be sure, one that is filled with hope and promise.
There are countless people throughout history that have been prepared in interesting, strange or even downright confusing ways for what was to come. If your life is in pieces, looking like a jig-saw puzzle, the only way that God can piece it back together for you is when you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.
God knows what He's doing. There have been so many times in my life where I have looked around and just asked, "why?" But the Lord has always had a plan for the confusion and the heartache in my life, and he has turned it all to good, even when I didn't believe it would happen and the situation was bleak.
God wants us to trust Him. He has a bigger plan going on than we can understand. God knows what He is doing in your life. If we really believe this, it will really change the way we see life. It can give us a sense of peace when we keep our eyes on this truth-that He has a plan for all He does. This understanding can quench our unbelief.
When Joseph was talking to his brothers in Egypt, after going through all the mess, after 13 years in prison, and after total confusion for what had happened in his life, said, "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt." Genesis 45:8
You can pray and ask God for this peace about the situations and difficulties in your life. Lord please give me the strength, understanding and trust to know that you are working out your perfect will in my life. Please equip me with the wisdom and faith to trust you and your perfect will for my life.
This article adapted from information from fantastic sermons by pastor Lon Solomon of McLean Bible Church: [http://www.McLeanBibleChurch.org].