Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul to his spiritual son in the faith—Timothy. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses twelve through seventeen of the first chapter. When you come to this particular passage of Scripture within the first chapter of the apostle Paul’s first epistle unto Timothy you will find the apostle once more speaking of the ministry which was entrusted unto him and into his care. If you recall when beginning to read this first epistle sent unto Timothy—the apostle Paul spoke of how he was an apostle of Jesus Christ, and how he was an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ. Thus in the first verse of this first chapter we discover the apostle Paul being as such of Jesus Christ, and by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ. What I so love about how the apostle Paul begins and opens up this particular epistle is his declaration that he was in fact an apostle of Jesus Christ—a statement which thus indicates that he was not an apostle by man, or of men, but of Jesus Christ, and Him alone. This isn’t to negate the reality that the apostle Paul was not an apostle of Jesus Christ sent unto and for men, but that the ministry entrusted into his care was first and foremost a ministry that was unto, for and before Jesus Christ. Moreover, this ministry which the apostle Paul received was so received by the commandment of God our Saviour, and by Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to this particular reality, for there are ministries which originate from the hearts and minds of men, and there are ministries which originate from the heart and mind of God. There are ministers which have been appointed and raised up by men, and there are ministers who have been raised up and appointed by the Holy Spirit. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus Christ spoke unto Ananias, as well as the words which were spoken by the Holy Spirit concerning Paul and Barnabas. Consider if you will the words which Jesus Christ Himself spoke unto Ananias during the period of Saul’s blindness there in Damascus:
“And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: for I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou comest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arise, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened” (Acts 9:10-19).
When you read the words contained within the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will find the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to Ananias in a vision concerning Saul, and not only that Saul would receive his sight, but also that Saul might be baptized, and might receive the Holy Spirit. What’s more, is when the Lord appeared to Ananias in a vision, he would go on to declare unto him how Saul was chosen by the Lord to be an instrument unto the Gentiles, and unto kings, and unto the house of Israel. Unto Ananias the Lord revealed in a vision that Saul would bear and bring the name of Jesus Christ unto the Gentiles, and would suffer many things for the sake of the name of Christ. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this particular reality, for there are ministries which are appointed and raised up by men and are completely absent and void the anointing and appointing of the Holy Spirit of Almighty God. ANOINTED AND APPOINTED! Perhaps one of the greatest questions and realities any minister of the gospel must ask themselves is whether or not they have been anointed and appointed by the Holy Spirit of the living God for the “assignment” and “work” they have been engaged therein. There is a vast and fundamental difference between engaging in a ministry that has originated from and within man’s own imagination and intellect, and a ministry that has the anointing of the Holy Spirit of Almighty God resting upon it. Along these very lines I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the prophet Isaiah prophesied according to the word of the Lord—words which are found and recorded in the sixty-first chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name. Consider if you will the words which the prophet prophesied according to the word of the Lord, which begin with the first verse of the chapter: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planing of the Lord, that He might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God” (Isaiah 61:1-6).
It is necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found and contained within this particular passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we find the prophet Isaiah declaring unto the house of Judah how the Spirit of the Lord God was upon him. What’s more, is that the prophet doesn’t merely declare that the Spirit of the Lord God had anointed him, but he goes on to reveal and speak of the specific purpose(s) for which the anointing rested upon his life. ANOINTING WITH A PURPOSE! ANOINTING CARRIES ASSIGNMENT! ANOINTING CARRIES RESPONSIBILITY! If there is one thing we recognize and realize when reading this particular passage of Scripture it’s that ministry flows directly from the anointing, and not the other way around. There are countless ministers who tend to think and believe that the anointing follows ministry, and that we must first be in ministry, and then the anointing follows thereafter. I am completely and utterly convinced that this simply is not the case, and anyone who believe the lie and misguided deception and delusion that anointing follows ministry is sorely and severely mistaken. As you read the words which the prophet Isaiah proclaimed within this particular passage, you will quickly discover that first comes the anointing—and that of the Spirit of the Lord God—and then comes the ministry and the assignment. I am convinced there are far too many men and women who are attempting to engage themselves in the ministry and perhaps even an assignment without, apart from, and absent the anointing of the Spirit of the living God. This leads me to the overwhelming conclusion that there is ministry which is performed among us within our churches and houses of worship which has within and upon the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God, and there is ministry which is performed among us within our churches which neither has the touch, nor the anointing of the Holy Spirit of Almighty God. When you read the words which the prophet Isaiah wrote in this particular passage of Scripture, as well as which he spoke unto the house of Judah, you will not only find the prophet Isaiah proclaiming and declaring that the Spirit of the Lord God was upon him, but he then goes on to declare how the Lord anointed him. In essence that which the prophet Isaiah declares is not only that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him, but also that the Lord had anointed . Thus, this particular passage of Scripture not only speaks of the presence of the Spirit of the Lord within and upon our lives, but this particular passage speaks of the anointing of the Lord for a specific assignment, work and ministry. We would be incredibly wise to not only recognize the reality of the presence of the Lord within and upon our lives, but also the anointing of the Lord for a very specific assignment, work and ministry within the earth.
The more I read and consider the words which are found in the sixty-first chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah, the more I am absolutely and completely gripped by the fact that it is the anointing the carries with it the assignment and work of ministry rather than ministry carrying with it the anointing. As you read the words which are found and contained within this passage of Scripture you will find the prophet Isaiah not only declaring that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, but the presence of the Spirit of the Lord upon him was because the Lord had anointed Him to “preach good tidings unto the meek.” Not only had the Lord anointed him to preach good tidings unto the meek, but the Lord also sent him to “bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” What’s more, is the Lord anointed him to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, to comfort all that mourn, to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, and to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. The Spirit of the Lord was upon the prophet and had anointed him in order that he might carry out a very specific assignment and work in the earth. DO NOT TRY THIS ON YOUR. OWN! DO NOT TRY THIS WITHOUT ANOINTING! Oh, there are countless men and women who are attempting to engage themselves in an assignment without and apart from the presence of the Spirit of the Lord upon their lives, and without the Lord anointing them to preach good tidings unto the meek. Mark my words that there are men and women among us who are living their lives as though the anointing somehow follows ministry, and that they first need to engage themselves in ministry, and get themselves in the ministry, and then the anointing comes after. I would dare say that the furthest thing couldn’t be true, and this reality is debunked and proved wrong in the account of David the son of Jesse the Bethlehemite. Consider if you will the account of David as he was the last of Jesse’s sons to pass before the prophet Samuel when he came unto the little town of Bethlehem:
“Again, Jesse made Sven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he com hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointing him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah” (1 Samuel 16:10-13).
One thing you will notice about David son of Jesse was that while he was anointed at what was most likely the age of seventeen, he did not actually step into and enter the role of king of Israel until he was thirty years of age. Pause for a moment and consider that reality—the reality that for thirteen years David lived with the anointing of the Lord having been poured upon him, and the presence of the Spirit upon him, and yet despite the fact that he had been anointed, he did not immediately step into the assignment for which he had been chosen. If there is one thing the account of David’s life reveals, it’s that serving before the Lord as king of Israel did not come first, and the anointing and presence of the Spirit of the Lord come after. The anointing by Samuel, and the subsequent presence of the Spirit of the Lord within and upon David’s life was essentially a deposit of something that was far greater than he could have imagined. Consider how for at a minimum of thirteen years David lived with the deposit of something greater within and upon his life, for not only had the anointing oil been poured upon him, but the Spirit of the Lord God came upon him from that day forward. CULTIVATING THE ANOINTING! What I so love about the account of David is that while the anointing oil was poured upon his head at a very young age, and while the Spirit of the Lord came upon him from that day forward, he would spend the next thirteen years cultivating the anointing which was upon him, as well as the presence of the Spirit within and upon his life. One thing we will notice is that it was David’s private victories that positioned him to receive the anointing, and to experience the presence of the Spirit within and upon His life, however, it was thirteen years of running and fleeing for his life that culminated the anointing and presence of the Spirit which was upon his life. We dare not miss or lose sight of the significance of this particular reality, for to do so would be to miss that which the Spirit would speak and reveal unto us. David was anointed by the prophet Samuel, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and yet before he could step into the assignment role for which he had been anointed, he would need to spend more than a decade cultivating the anointing upon his life, and cultivating the presence of the Spirit that was upon and within him. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to this reality and concept, for the assignment of David did not come before and prior to the anointing of David, and David did not, would not, and could not reverse the order. Even though David had been anointed by Samuel, and even though the Spirit of the Lord had come mightily upon him, on the two occasions when David could have cut down Saul and seized the throne for his own good, David refused to do so. It was true that the prophet Samuel had anointed David as the next king of Israel, but Saul had also been anointed as king over the nation of Israel.
It was precisely because of the anointing that was present upon the life of Saul that David would not and could not strike and cut him down in order to advance and elevate himself. Though David was anointed by the prophet Samuel, and though the Spirit of the Lord was upon David, he would not take it upon himself to lay hold of something that he was neither yet qualified, nor positioned for. Oh, we must learn that it is possible that we might have the anointing upon our lives, and the Spirit of the Lord might be upon us, and yet we are not yet positioned or qualified to enter into that for which we have been called and chosen. Oh, you might very well have the anointing upon your life, yet just because you carry the anointing doesn’t mean that you can now choose and control your own destiny, your own assignment, and the work for which you have been called. A similar reality is found in the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, for within this particular chapter we find a very specific event taking place and occurring within the life of Paul—and not only Paul, but also Barnabas. Beginning with the first verse of the thirteenth chapter you will find the following words: “Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucid; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister” (Acts 13:1-5). This is actually quite astounding and remarkable, for within this passage of Scripture we find that it was the Holy Ghost which not only separated Saul and Barnabas unto Himself for the work to which they had been called, but we also declared unto them that there was a specific work and assignment for and to which they had been called. This actually brings us back to the words which we find and read in the first chapter of the epistle which was written unto Timothy, for in the twelfth verse of the first chapter we find the apostle Paul thanking Christ Jesus our Lord, who enabled him, for that He counted him faithful, putting him into the ministry.
Please don’t miss or lose sight of this all important and all encompassing reality, for the apostle declared that it was Jesus Christ Himself who not only enabled him, and not only counted him faithful, but also put him in ministry. In other words, it wasn’t the apostle Paul who took it upon himself to enter into and engage himself in the ministry, but it was the Lord Jesus Christ who put him into the ministry. Paul was put into the ministry—not because he chose it himself, nor perhaps even because he wanted it, for you will recall that prior to the conversion of Saul he persecuted the church of Jesus Christ. In fact, when you read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in this particular portion of Scripture you will find that immediately after he spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ putting him into the ministry, he writes how before he was put into the ministry, he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious to the church. As you continue reading this passage of Scripture you will find that the apostle Paul would go on to write how although he was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious, he obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly in unbelief. What’s more, is the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which was in Christ Jesus. The apostle Paul would go on to write how Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and the apostle Paul viewed himself as the chief of sinners. When I was considering the reality and weight of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy within this passage, I was struck by one simple question—WHAT WERE YOU? As I am sitting here right now I can’t help but be seized and gripped by a second question which is similar in nature to that previous question. The second question is simply: WHO WERE YOU? The central theme and focus of these questions is simply to bring us to the point were we are able to openly admit to who and what we were prior to our conversion, and prior to Jesus Christ radically transforming and changing us the way he did. The apostle Paul had absolutely no problem speaking of who he once was, for he knew that he had obtained great grace and mercy from the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, I would dare say that Paul regularly meditated and pondered who and what he once was—not because he was stuck and somehow seized with and by his past, but because he had received such great mercy and grace from the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider if you will the words which Luke writes and records beginning with the first verse of the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts: “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devote men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-40.
In the opening four verses of the eighth chapter we encounter firsthand the tremendous opposition of Saul toward and against the church, for not only did he consent to the death of Stephen, but he also wreaked havoc of the church and committed countless men and women to prison. Moreover, when we come to the ninety chapter of the same New Testament book of Acts we find Luke writing concerning Saul’s conversion, and how Saul’s conversion came when he was yet still breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord. Consider if you will the words which Luke records beginning with the first verse of the ninth chapter: “And Saul, yet breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink” (Acts 9:1-9). It is within this particular passage of Scripture that we find the account of Saul—not only breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, but also desiring to obtain letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of the way, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. While he was on his way with letters in his hand, the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus and thrust him to the earth. It was there on the road to Damascus where Saul would first experience the person of Jesus Christ, not only experience the person of Jesus Christ, but also discover that all his actions weren’t committed against mere men, but were in fact committed against Jesus Himself. It is in the ninth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts that we find Saul experiencing and encountering the person and presence of Jesus—an experience and encounter that would not only intervene in the middle of the path he was on, but would also set him on a completely different path—a path where he would be raised up as an apostle unto the Gentiles, and apostle unto the nations.
There are two specific passages found within the New Testament book of Acts in which we find Paul himself speaking unto the reality and measure of what man he once was. Twice within the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul speaking before rulers and professing and declaring unto them concerning what manner of man he once was—that was, however, until and before Jesus Christ stopped him dead in his tracks on the road to Damascus. Consider if you will the words which Luke records beginning with the first verse of the twenty-second chapter: “Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defense, which I make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the earth, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And He said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of His mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarries thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. And it came to pass, that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord they know that I was imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: and when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles” (Acts 22:1-21).
With these words the apostle Paul provides us with the testimony—not only of his encounter on the road leading to Damascus, but also of his conversion in the company and presence of Ananias. What is so incredibly powerful about this particular testimony, is that it wasn’t the first time the apostle Paul would speak and proclaim his testimony. In fact, if you journey to the twenty-sixth chapter of the same New Testament book you will find the apostle Paul once more—in his defense—proclaiming his testimony and the encounter he had with Jesus Christ. Beginning with the first verse of the twenty-sixth chapter we find the following words: “I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear my patiently. My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? I verily though with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority form the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them ofte in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them< I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to. Kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:1-23).
As I am sitting here pondering and meditating upon the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in his first epistle, I can’t help but be gripped by the reality and concept of who and what we once were. The apostle Paul never once forgot who he once was, and what he once was in the sight of both God and men. For the apostle Paul, there was never a single doubt concerning who he was prior to his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and prior to his conversion there in Damascus. The apostle Paul had absolutely no quarrel or qualm with referring to himself as the chief of sinners, and even writing how he was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious. The apostle Paul remembered all to well how he had wreaked havoc within and wreaked havoc upon the church in Jerusalem, and how through and according to the mercy of the Lord he would be appointed and raised up to establish churches among the Gentiles. How absolutely incredible it is to think how the apostle Paul once sought to utterly and completely destroy the church of Jesus Christ within the city of Jerusalem, and yet he would spend the greater part of his life establishing and building up the very church he once sought to destroy. When writing unto Timothy, the apostle Paul not only admitted to the man he once was, but he also declared unto Timothy the great mercy and grace the Lord Jesus Christ displayed toward him—not only by powerfully converting him, but also raising him up, appointing, choosing and anointing him to be an apostle of Christ unto the Gentiles. I absolutely love the words the apostle Paul uses within this particular epistle, for within this epistle the apostle Paul reminds Timothy—and perhaps even himself—of the man he once was. There is not a doubt in mind that for the apostle Paul were it not for the grace of Christ within his life, and were it not for the mercy of Christ within and upon his life, he would have continued along that dangerous path of persecuting the church. God in His infinite mercy and grace, however, chose encounter Saul while on the road to Damascus and anoint and appoint him to be an apostle unto the Gentiles. I am sitting here right now and I am gripped at the reality that while it might be true we are not who we want to be, or perhaps even who we ought to be, we are not who we used to be. I am finding myself this day being reminded of the tremendous reality of the testimony of who we once were and who we have been called to be. I am finding myself staring in the mirror knowing full well the tremendous need for continued transformation within my life in order that I might become the man who I have been called, created, chosen, ordained and appointed to be. Oh that we would today remember who and what we once were, and that we would truly understand that for which we have even called in this generation.