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Paul keeps going when he feels like quitting

A certain church had a beautiful stained-glass window just behind the pulpit. It depicted Jesus Christ on the cross.

One Sunday there was a guest minister who was much smaller than the regular pastor.

A little girl listened to the guest for a time, then turned to her mother and asked, “Where is the man who usually stands there so we can’t see Jesus?”


I fear that many times today the world looks on at preachers and other Christians alike and can’t see Jesus because of how something else about us blocks the way.

But when an overcoming Christian’s testimony shines through, people’s eyes are drawn toward Jesus rather than us blocking the way. Today we will see that was Paul’s desire despite fighting troubles in his day.

This is the next message in a series entitled facing life with the Apostle Paul.

When we look at Paul’s life in the Bible, we see many things that we can relate to on our own faith journey.

We have seen Saul saved and baptized about 33 AD. We saw Saul grow in Christ and have Barnabas help him get accepted by the Apostles of Jerusalem in 36 AD.

We saw Saul deal with a no answer in prayer, but receive a promise – his thorn in the flesh would remain, but God’s power would shine through his weakness. That happened about 41 AD in Tarsus.

We saw Barnabas recruit Saul for ministry in Antioch of Syria about 46 AD, and the wonderful team ministry they had there. We saw that around that same time, Saul fought for integration of Jews and Christians into one church body.

We saw Barnabas and Saul become missionaries, and win souls and plant churches in Southern Galatia for a couple of years around 47-48 AD.

Last time we saw that just after the Jerusalem Council of 49 AD, Saul lost his good friend Barnabas to an angry disagreement, and what he did later to restore as much as he could. 

Paul’s second missionary journey was thus with Silas, and wound up being directed by the Holy Spirit to what we now call Europe.

Paul’s second missionary journey lasted 3 years between 49-52 AD. Churches did get planted in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth, but at a huge personal toll physically, emotionally, and even spiritually for Paul.

Let’s see how Paul describes to the Corinthians his state when he got there.

Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5            

Paul keeps going when he feels like quitting              Let’s Pray!

Paul knew he was not the best messenger they would ever hear                     V. 1

Paul had just been in Athens, and spoken at the Acropolis. Like Athens, Corinth loved its talented philosophers and orators. It’s one of the main reasons so many in the Corinthian church later loved Apollos so much!

Paul had lots of knowledge about the Jewish AND Greek mindset, and in Athens he did a great job saying the right apologetic things to them to set up the gospel presentation.

But his was not an overly polished presentation – in their lifetime they would hear many more memorable speakers than Paul. And in our day we have lots of impressive speakers in the world and in Christian circles.

It’s easy for even committed Christians to get distracted by speakers like Joel Osteen, who are very polished but whose message puts self on the throne and reduces God to being a cheerleader for you as you do what you want to do.

Paul makes clear that they didn’t respond to him because he was impressive. He knew he was not the best messenger they would ever hear.  

Paul knew his was the most important message they would ever hear            V. 2

I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Paul knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, God the Son. He wanted everyone to know Jesus as their Creator and Savior! He loved to talk from the Bible about who Jesus is, and what Jesus has done for sinners on the Cross!

He knew that on the cross God’s love and justice had met. The wrath due the sinner had been poured out on Christ on the cross. Heaven’s love due the Son of God was poured out on the repentant on the cross!

He knew that if any sinner be in Christ, he or she becomes a new creation.

I want to be like Paul, and I hope you do as well.

We are not the most impressive speakers, but we have the most important message – that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures! 

Paul didn’t care at the end of the day whether they were impressed with him – he wanted them to be transformed by Jesus.

And at the end of the day it doesn’t matter here whether you are impressed with Danny Campbell or the Tabernacle, as long as you are transformed by Jesus!

That’s why we rejoice when other churches see souls saved, just like we want to happen here! The boats of Dunkirk!

Paul was an overcomer by standing before them at all                                        V. 3

I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

Before Paul got to Corinth on that second journey, he had been beaten, imprisoned and shackled in Philippi, run out of Thessalonica and Berea, and mocked in Athens.  

Think about what those Corinthians saw when they saw Paul before them.

He probably had bad eyesight, his thorn in the flesh. He probably had bruises from various beatings he had received with rods and with lashes. His arm might have been in his sling.

Inside he was probably still hurting over his lost relationship with Barnabas. He had no rest in his spirit wondering if Titus was okay after they had missed each connecting with each other in Troas (2 Cor. 2:12-13).

He was very concerned about if all the Christians and churches he had already ministered to were growing and staying away from idols and false teaching. He prayed, he fasted, he had sleepless nights.  

From his letters we read that he was also physically weak from poverty, long hours of work to pay the bills, hunger, thirst, questionable housing.

He writes of what it felt like to face humiliation, outrageous treatment, evil reports, gossip, being reviled, persecuted, defamed, considered filth of the world

He writes about being burdened beyond measure, without strength, fighting for his own purity, hard pressed on every side, perplexed, sorrowful, anguishing, crying, even despairing of life, wanting to give up.

He didn’t jump up before the Corinthians like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. It took everything he had to stand before them in the weak and fearful state he was in, trembling as he spoke, anticipating the next beatdown for trying.

Don’t ever believe the men and women of the Bible can’t relate to your troubles – they experienced everything we do, many times in greater degrees.

The same power that had saved and used Paul can change anyone else            V. 4-5

My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

These words are so important, because God is doing the same thing today through your testimony of God changing you!

Now as an Apostle Paul was able to work miracles to authenticate his message.

The miracles of the Bible are in clusters, hundreds of years apart, around key times of God acting, especially in deliverance and revelation.

Specifically, around creation, the exodus and giving of the law, the time of the prophets, to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, and the age of the Apostles.

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested to you by miracles (dunamis), wonders (tereta), and signs (semeion) which God did in your midst.   -Acts 2:22

Truly the signs (semeion) of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perserverance, in signs (semeion) and wonders (tereta) and mighty deeds (dunamis).                        -2 Corinthians 12:12

Jesus could heal and raise people from the dead, so could Peter and Paul and other first generation leaders in Jesus’ name. But we don’t read of that happening by the hands of later disciples like Timothy and Titus.

We can all pray for people to be healed today, but none of us are apostles and miracle workers in the way Paul and Peter and the first generation of church leaders were able to do to confirm them as God’s spokesmen.

Many people today fall for questionable Christian leaders who style themselves as miracle workers, but Jesus and Paul warned that toward the end times it will be false Christs, false prophets, and the Antichrist who will be able to work signs and wonders to deceive people on earth (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:9).

Now I hope I haven’t lost you – Look back at I Corinthians 2:4-5

We can’t work miracles like the apostle Paul, but our lives can show the power of salvation – that’s what Paul emphasizes here!

Paul is not here emphasizing signs and wonders but God’s power (dunamis). Acts 1:8 connects it with the power the indwelling Spirit gives us all to witness. Romans 1:16 connects it with the power of the gospel to save whoever believes.

What’s Paul saying to them?

When I spoke you saw the Holy Spirit take over, using the powerful message, convicting your hearts – you forgot about the pitiful man before you – you saw a life transformed by the gospel, and you wanted what I have in Christ.

The world is looking at us like those Corinthians were looking at Paul.

We talk a good game for Jesus, but when trouble and disappointment comes we often react exactly like the world does. We go AWOL for the faith until our circumstances improve. But think about it.

Why would an unbeliever want to hear about your Jesus if you react the same or even more poorly as non-believers every time your circumstances get tough?  

They don’t! But when an unbeliever sees a believer going through tough circumstances, and sees them continue to show up and speak up for Jesus, they start thinking that maybe there is something to that believer’s Jesus!

It’s what drew me to Doug Barr’s Jesus! It’s what makes me marvel every time I consider some of your testimonies!

What helped Paul deal with feelings of giving up there in Corinth?

We are actually told in Acts 18

Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them.          -Acts 18:9-11

What helped Paul (and us) deal with feelings of giving up?

Being assured of God’s presence WITH us

God said, “I am with you, Paul!”

The greatest promise to believers in the Bible!

Many places, including Christ’s great commission to us all!

Being assured of God’s purpose FOR us

I have many more people in this city for you to influence for Me!

As you show up and speak up, Paul, they will come to faith and follow Me!

What a great promise!

And God has ways He wants to use you RIGHT NOW!

If you are looking for a safe religion that will ask nothing hard of you, you need to follow self hep gurus like Oprah Winfrey.

But if you are serious about following Jesus, know that He will make demands on your life that will challenge your commitment and highly inconvenience your flesh, but will lead to new levels of growth and impact for God’s glory!

At the beginning of the Covid 19 Lockdown I challenged the church to “Not waste your Coronavirus.”

In other words, to walk by faith instead of fear and keep accomplishing things for God during this time.

I took my own advice and wrote the Devotional through the Book of Revelation.

I have cherished every conversation I have had with church members who have told me examples of how their faith has grown during this time, and opportunities for service and witness that have come during this time.

But I am concerned that recently fear is overcoming faith again.

Dear saints, this is your opportunity to walk by faith and do things for God through faith, just like the saints in the Bible.

This is your Esther moment, your such a time as this! This is your Joseph in Potiphar’s house moment. This is your Rahab helping the Jewish spies moment. This is your Daniel in the Lion’s Den moment. This is your Priscilla and Aquila moment to shine. Your Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego moment to stand!  

Don’t shrink back through fear, go forward in faith, especially with sharing Jesus.

From the insanity of God book:

The man from the persecuted church telling western Christians not to believe there is a western free church and an eastern persecuted church. There are many professing Christians over here who are silent and don’t get into trouble for Jesus. Wherever you are in the world, if you witness for Jesus an extra layer of trouble will come into your life. 

There’s a reason the Bible calls true believers “overcomers.” By faith we will overcome the challenges the Lord sets before us in our generation!

Please bow your heads

Challenge to believers (Commitment, baptism if needed)

Sinner’s Prayer