S (Scripture): Acts 23:12 When morning came, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink anything until they had killed Paul.
O (Observation): Paul faced lots of difficulties and obstacles, but this was the most difficult so far. 40 people actually vowed not to eat or drink anything until Paul had been killed!
Yet, Paul was secure in his identity in Christ, as a child of God. He made plans to tell the commanding officer that he’d heard of this deadly plot…but this was not a cowardly move. He simply wanted a chance to stand before Rome, perhaps, and give witness to Jesus Christ there.
Whatever his reason, Paul’s main drive was to give witness to Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This kind of death would have been a truncation to that witness.
A (Application): The devil gets us where it hits our identity the strongest: Appetite, Approval, and Ambition.
Of those three, Approval struck me the hardest. Here is Paul, with at least 40 people who want him dead. It’s pretty much the definition of the OPPOSITE of approval.
So many times, I want to please everyone. I want everyone around me to also agree with my thoughts. Of course that’s the sinful side of me speaking. That’s the devil trying to make me think that I need Approval from those in this world, when what I really need is to know that God has already approved me…loves me.
Here’s a quote from Mike Breen’s “Multiplying Missional Leaders”:
Rather than finding peace in being sons and daughters of the King, people adopted into a family with a loving Father, we find ourselves needing the approval from people around us, desperately hoping they will affirm our value.
If we seek approval from those in this world, we will be sorely disappointed and we will succumb to the whims of this world. Instead, let us find peace in the One who loves us already.
I think about my baptism as a place where I was approved…the seal of approval was placed on my forehead, oil smeared across my head so that I was sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit for all of my days. I try to remember that this approval sets me free.
And now, for the challenge, brought forth from the same book I quoted above:
If you find it difficult to call people to the responsibility and character of the Kingdom and to assume their rightful place by representing the King well, it’s because you haven’t settled your identity with God.
Well? How do you feel? At peace? If not, let us pray about your Identity now…
P (Prayer): Lord, we all struggle, every single day. We struggle to find peace in making others happy. We seek approval from others…but remind us that you already approve of us, claim us, love us. Help us to rest our identity in you as your sons and daughters. Amen.