Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart: http://sothrichfield.podbean.com/
Galatians 1:11-24 (NIV)
Paul Called by God
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
Not many of us have a story like the Apostle Paul’s. He didn’t start out as the rockin’ church planter we know and love. He started out as a high-ranking Jewish leader; he advanced beyond some of his peers in his education, and he became a very successful persecutor of the early church! I would think that the last part (how he persecuted the church) would disqualify him from serving as a church planter for Jesus. Yet, God had other plans for Paul. God called him into service, changed his life, gave him a new heart and a new purpose. Paul is the perfect example of Romans 5.8, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Today, consider how great our God is, how gracious and loving. Know that this gracious, loving God does the same thing for you and for me this day: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Praise God for his amazing love and grace toward you this day.