Welcome to a new devo series through 1 Timothy, entitled — It's Time To Clean Up The Church. So I will not do a bunch of preliminary work here and bore you with loads of historical details. Instead, I'm just going to build the history as we go to make this experience a lot more fun. Today I will read 1 Timothy 1:1, which is only the salutation but is very important. Here's the text:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope. — 1 Timothy 1:1
So who is Paul?
Paul is a man we used to know as Saul. And in the book Book of Acts, we discover that Saul was a high-ranking, wealthy, and well-educated Jewish official who was one of the most vigorous opponents of Jesus and his followers. History tells us that he was so opposed to Jesus and his resurrection that he found malicious ways to justify the imprisoning, beating, and killing of Christians. This is the definition of a strong opponent. It's one who spends his days contriving legal ways to justify punishing and murdering people. Yet we learn that while Saul was in the process of hunting down followers of Christ, the resurrected Jesus would confront him. Because of this, Saul has this radical transformation that results in him becoming a follower. And not just that, he becomes one of the greatest proponents of the faith in history. And with this, he took a different name — Paul.
But his transformation was so radical that his past allies and new ones found his testimony hard to believe. His former allies, Jews, had a hard time believing, but so did his new Christian allies. And just so you know, Paul would spend a lot of years reconciling the issues that arose from his newfound belief and identity.
One of the great challenges I think all men encounter is knowing and living out our identity in Jesus Christ. It was true in Paul's time, and it's true in our time. While we used to live in a time that broadly accepted and permitted Christian belief, we know this is no longer the case today. Jesus's name and Christian practices are being methodically removed from institutions of learning, public gatherings, and even some churches. More radical ideologies have taken their place and are being publically celebrated. Yet today, Christian beliefs suffer shame if they are shared. And this affects how we talk about, live out, and find our way to knowing our identity in Christ.
But! Paul once said this in another letter he wrote:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes... — Romans 1:16
This is an important declaration by Paul. He is stating something deeply about what he believes about himself and what he is doing as a messenger of Christ. This is why I believe Paul leads with this announcement to Timothy in verse one. It's not just a casual salutation. This introduction is a statement of fact in a world that attempted to deidentify, reidentify, and even shame him. It's a statement about who Paul was as declared by God himself. Paul states he is a messenger of Jesus by command of the most high God.
So you need to remember today that God finds no shame in you. Jesus bore your shame on the cross; you should not be ashamed of who you are and what you believe. It makes no difference what others say about you, what you say about yourself, or even what your past says about you. The only thing that matters is what God says about you. He is the one who makes men and remakes their identity. He can take opponents like you were and remake you into the greatest of proponents. So live in this identity today regardless of what comes your way because the only identity that matters is the one God gave to you.
ASK THIS: Are you living in the truth of your identity in Christ or shame that the world project onto you?
DO THIS: Live unashamed in His identity.
PRAY THIS: God, I believe you bore all my shame, and I choose to be confident in the work and identity you gave me.
PLAY THIS: I'm Not Ashamed.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.
Wow Vince! You, Paul and Jeremy Camp all hit the nail on the head for me today. I am not ashamed and will pray that God uses me to reach others for Him today. Love the music video in the school hallway as I am a retired teacher/principal/superintendent. Powerful!!!
Excited to kick of this new series. I purchased the journal it will be here tomorrow!
When we talk about identity I can relate to the struggle Paul went through being caught between two people groups. I’m sure all believers can. The thing that resonated with me the most was the scripture reading of Romans 1:16. His statement was more of a reminder that I should not be ashamed of the gospel and what Jesus did for me.
I struggled for a long time because God sent his son to die on the cross for me…yes, me! I looked at my life and said, what a waste. On the outside I was the people pleaser, funny, life of the party. Inside, I was hurting, lost, struggled to understand why me. How do I respond now?
All that said, I was wrapped up in this identity, now I have given to God. Maybe he will continue to transform me and do a radical change in me as he did to Paul.
Bottomline…Im all in! Not ashamed of the gospel. I spend time in the Word of God but I want to read and understand Gods word more, have a deeper connection, pray fervently and I look forward to diving in this study.
I love Paul’s confidence of where his new identity comes from, “by command of God”. Could I get away with a declaration like that in this day and age? “I am a son, disciple, priest, servant, friend, and ambassador of God by command of God.” It could come across as arrogance to those who don’t understand. But really to the rest of us it’s just saying “I am who I am because God says so, period.” 🙂
I love it!
Great one today Vince! We all need reminding especially myself that we need to stop looking over our shoulder at things we did wrong or who we once were and focus on the man Jesus knows we can become!
Thanks for this reminder today Vince.
You bet George!
Thank you Vince,
I needed this one today. Shame is so hard for me. The way I was shamed. The shame I have for things I have done . The shame I get for what I have done. I cry thinking about Christ’s forgiveness and struggle to understand how His love can be so great.
We all need it!
I am living in the identity of Christ. I to like Paul am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
Come on, Sheldon. Preach it!