Devotional Thoughts for Today
Lk. 6:39-40 (ESV): “He also told them a parable: ‘Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?  A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.’”
The seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were really impressed with Paul when he drove out evil spirits. So, upon seeing a “man who had the evil spirit” (Acts 19:15), they said, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out” (13). The evil spirit, instead of coming out, retorted, “’Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit . . . . gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding” (15-6). What happened? Without being fully trained and presuming their vision to be 20/20, Sceva’s sons tried to lead a “blind man”; the result was disastrous.
Many of us want to take on a bigger assignment from God, but consider the events in Paul’s life. Soon after his conversion, Paul became aware that he was God’s “chosen instrument to carry [His] name before the Gentiles and their kings” (9:15). Being a competitive and zealous person (Gal. 1:14), Paul might’ve thought that this international ministry was going to start right away. But God had other plans: Paul spent the next three years mostly in Arabia (17) where God trained him for ministry in isolation from everyone. Then he went to Jerusalem where he spoke “boldly in the name of the Lord” (Acts 9:29), but the Jews there “tried to kill him” (29). So, the church leaders had him return home to Tarsus (350 miles) and stay there until the situation calmed down. But, by the time Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Paul and bring him to Antioch (11:25-6), which, in time, would launch his international ministry, he had waited 8 years in anonymity. During those years, instead of looking ahead for his big break, Paul was training hard while no one was looking; he was learning to be “faithful with a few things” (Matt. 25:23).
Don’t be eager to be used by God; if He wants to use you, He will find you. In the meantime, submit to God’s training so that when He calls, you are ready to serve God in total dependence upon Him.
God, I magnify You this morning. Since I take my job (or study) seriously, I put all my energy to get better, but I don’t put the same effort in serving You. Often, I just show up without any preparation. Forgive me for this arrogance. Help me to change so that I may render a service that is worthy of You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 53
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Cor. 11:1 (NASB): “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”
2 Thess. 3:6-9 (ESV): “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.  For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you,  nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.  It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.”
Heb. 13:7 (ESV): “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
Question to Consider
- What is the best and most effective way to be trained for ministry at any level?
- What’s the most difficult aspect about people looking to you for modeling?
- What was Paul’s concern in relation to the Thessalonians who erroneously believed that the coming of Jesus already happened or was imminent (2 Thess. 2:1-2)? What are some areas where you need training?
- All three passages have this in common as to the best way to be trained: first, be observant of a tangible model of individuals who demonstrate the character and the ways of Christ; two, imitate their ways. We are also to be motivated by the final outcome of people who have maintained a consistent walk with God.
- The most difficult aspect is being consistent with what I say and what I actually do. It would be hard to be a model for anyone if I live lazily after teaching people that they should be industrious.
- Paul was concerned that several Thessalonians had stopped working on account that the world was about to end (i.e., the 2nd coming of Christ). So Paul reminded them about his example of how he was working to support himself. Are you working hard or always looking for short-cuts? Imitate Paul as he imitated Christ.
God trains us through many ways, formal education being one. But the most impactful way is through trials and errors that He allows in our lives. What are some ways that God trained you today? What did you learn about the Lord and about yourself? Take a pause and reflect. “Consider it pure joy . . . whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2).