Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
— Philippians 1:6
When God calls you, He will equip and prepare you to effectively complete your assignment on time. He will use every aspect of who you are and where you came from to bring about His will in your life. He factors in your background, your level of education, your past occupations, and everything else you’ve accumulated from your life experiences. Many times He will also lead you into new territory where you are surrounded by unfamiliar faces in order to teach you lessons that you couldn’t learn any other way. Perhaps no example of this is clearer than the life of the apostle Paul.
Paul played a major role in the founding of the Early Church. God used him to write almost two-thirds of the New Testament, and his inspired epistles have guided the Body of Christ for nearly 2,000 years. However, when Paul first came to the Lord, he was very inexperienced in the arena of ministry. In order for him to accurately understand God’s vision of the Church, he had to be adequately equipped and prepared. This period of training would not happen in the way Paul planned. He would have to go somewhere entirely unexpected.
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Soon after his life-changing conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul traveled to Jerusalem, eager to connect with the disciples who resided there and begin his ministry. Given his background as a former rabbi who spoke fluent Hebrew, Jerusalem seemed to him like the natural choice to focus his efforts, since he was so intimately acquainted with the Jewish culture, tradition, and religious thought that permeated that city. However, God had called him to bring the Gospel to the Gentile world first and foremost, and Jerusalem’s predominately Jewish environment could not adequately prepare him for this ministry.
Paul’s stay in Jerusalem didn’t last long. The Gospel message he had boldly proclaimed in the synagogues soon after his arrival enraged the local Jewish leadership, and they conspired to kill him. When the local believers learned of this plot against Paul’s life, they helped him covertly leave the city and then sent him off to his hometown of Tarsus. There Paul remained until God was ready to usher him into the next phase of his calling, where the sure foundations of his ministry would be laid and his Christian walk would be strengthened by leaps and bounds.
The proving ground for Paul would be the city of Antioch, a major city located approximately 300 miles north of Jerusalem in modern-day Syria. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire during early New Testament times, with only Rome and Alexandria exceeding it in size. Situated on a crossroads between East and West, it was a thriving commercial center and a true melting pot of cultures and peoples. The city’s population was also composed primarily of Gentiles — a very important factor for Paul, given the nature of his calling.
The multiplicity of cultures found within the thriving urban environment of Antioch naturally resulted in a colorful and diverse Christian community. When the Gospel was first brought to Antioch in the wake of Stephen’s martyrdom, it was warmly received and the city experienced a revival as pagans and Jews alike left their old lives behind and accepted Jesus into their hearts. Before long, a thriving church was established as believers in Antioch began to actively evangelize their city and the surrounding region. During Paul’s time with this congregation, he regularly ministered alongside Gentiles and learned to communicate effectively with them. These experiences would do much to equip him for the epic apostolic journeys that he would later embark upon across the Roman Empire.
From its onset, the church of Antioch had grown rapidly until it was second in size only to the church of Jerusalem. However, despite the distinction of these churches having the two largest congregations in the mid-First Century, the two works were very different. Many of the believers in Antioch were Gentiles who came from pagan backgrounds, whereas the believers in Jerusalem were nearly all of Jewish ancestry.
Antioch’s rich, diverse environment was the “right place” God chose to equip and prepare the apostle Paul for ministry. A brand-new move of the Spirit was taking place in that city, and by following God’s calling to move there, Paul put himself in a position to receive an entirely fresh perspective of the Body of Christ. During his time in Antioch, he learned important lessons from what he saw and experienced that he could have never learned if he had stayed in Jerusalem. Following God’s call led Paul to a place he would have never anticipated, but it was an essential step to equip him for the rest of his ministry.
Never forget the promise that Paul himself wrote to us in Philippians 1:6. It says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul was certainly speaking from personal experience when he wrote this verse. According to Paul, God will begin a good work in us and will “perform” it until the day of Jesus’ return for the Church. The word “perform” is the Greek word epiteleo, a compound of epi and teleo. The word epi adds force to the word. The word teleo means to finish, complete, or conclude. When the two words are compounded, the new word epiteleo shows that God is forcefully moving His plans for us in the right direction until we are finally complete! Paul started that verse with the word “confident” — the Greek word peitho. It means you can be sure, convinced, and ever certain of these things!
Likewise, God knows exactly where you need to be and who you need to be with in order to equip you for your life assignment — and He is working to get you exactly where you need to be! As He did in the life of Paul, God will use every aspect of who you are and where you came from to bring about His will in your life. He will use your background, your level of education, your past occupations, and everything else you’ve accumulated from your life experiences. And He may also lead you into places where you are surrounded by unfamiliar faces to teach you lessons that you couldn’t learn any other way. One thing is certain: If God has called you, He will equip you for the task! You can be sure of it!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I am so thankful that since You have called me, You will also equip me for the task in front of me. You never call anyone that You do not also equip to do the job. Help me have an open heart so I’ll know where and with whom I need to be in order to be in the environment that will prepare me for the next phase of my life. Help me see where I am right now with spiritual eyes and to hear with spiritual ears so I can receive the maximum preparation You want to provide for me. I know that Your hand is guiding me. And even if You lead me to places with unfamiliar faces, I know You are doing what is necessary to get me ready for the next God-ordained phase of my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I respond to God’s call on my life and I cooperate with how He is equipping me for the task ahead of me. I know that God never calls anyone whom He does not also equip to do the job. My heart is open to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. God’s hand is guiding me, and He is doing what is necessary to get me ready for the path that lies ahead! Therefore, I will be at the right place, at the right time, with the right people, in an environment that will prepare me for the next phase of my life. My spiritual eyes and spiritual ears are attuned to the Spirit so I can receive the maximum preparation that God wants to provide for me.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- As you look at your life, can you see how God has used your life experiences to prepare you for what you are doing right now?
- What has God used from your life experiences to prepare you for what you are doing? Consider your background, your education, and your past occupations. What else has He used to equip you for what He has called you to do in the future?
- Has God led you to places where you were surrounded by unfamiliar faces to teach you lessons that you couldn’t learn any other way? When was that experience and what did you gain from it?