Paul's Self-Description
by Asher Intrater, , Revive Israel

When we truly understand both the greatness of our spiritual identity and calling, and at the same time our own weakness and failings, it can make us feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.

The Apostle Paul (Saul) felt the same way: he referred to himself on four different levels from highest to lowest.

1. Highest - Like a "Super Apostle": In arguments with Paul, Peter, James, John, Apollos and Barnabas concerning the work that he had done in European and Asia Minor, Paul felt he could not yield. This was not so much an issue of ego but of defining spheres of authority. He did not want others to confuse what God had done within his area of responsibility. In this context, Paul considered himself and his authority at the same level as those who were considered as "pillars" among the apostles (Galatians 2:6, 9) or even "super apostles" (II Corinthians 11:5; 12:11).

2. Medium High - "Least of Apostles": When describing the witness of the resurrection and the fact that Yeshua had personally appeared to him, he needed to state his position as an apostle; but at the same time there was nothing to defend in comparison to anyone else. It was an issue of testimony for the gospel. So here he mentioned that he was part of the apostolic witness but at the same time referred to himself as the "least of the apostles" and even unworthy of that position (I Corinthians 15:9).

3. Medium Low - "Least of Saints": In describing God's glorious plan for all of those who love Him, Paul gives divine descriptions of us being filled even with "the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). In this context, the promises are for everyone who believes. The inheritance is for all within the ecclesia, for all those being sanctified by the Spirit of God. Here there is no need for any explanation of position, so he simply refers to himself as "the least of the saints" (Ephesians 3:8).

4. Lowest - "Worst of Sinners": In describing God's grace towards us in salvation and the forgiveness of sins, the emphasis is again different. Here we see the greatness of Yeshua's sacrifice for us on the cross despite our own unworthiness. In deep repentance for his previous sins - especially persecuting the believers - Paul recognizes the depths of his own sinful nature and therefore describes himself as "the worst of sinners" (I Timothy 1:13-15).

So we live in a paradox: God's grace grants to us supernatural significance, identity and destiny, yet our own frailty and lack of ability lead us to the painful awareness of our own unworthiness and selfishness outside of God's grace.

So, "Just who do you think you are?"

Well, with respect to God's calling, it is "super".

With respect to our own abilities, it is "the worst".

This article was previously published on 31Mar16 here on the Revive Israel website and on 12Apr16 here on Kehila News Israel.

Paul's Self-Description
by Asher Intrater, , Revive Israel

There is a subtle dynamic between our spiritual faith communities and the governments leading our society. One day Yeshua, as King Messiah, will take over the kingdoms of this world (Revelation 11:15). In the meantime we are called to be a positive godly influence within our societies, through prayer, moral example and actions of social justice.

Praying for government leaders is a priority for us because government leaders affect many people who live under their rule (I Timothy 2:1-2). We can pray for them to have wisdom (Ephesians 1:17) and for God to cause them to make righteous decisions (Proverbs 21:1).

Following an Ancient Pattern

The prophets of ancient Israel would "pour oil" on the heads of the kings. For example, Samuel anointed David to make him king (I Samuel 16:13). We can also "pour out" a spiritual anointing upon government leaders through prayer in order to help them.

This spiritual anointing has two purposes:

1. To choose and empower a candidate to become head of the government.

2. To help him succeed and make right decisions after he takes office.

Praying for our Leaders

We need to pray for government leaders on both levels. I try to pray daily for the Prime Minister of Israel and the Knesset members, to give them spiritual oil for wisdom and revelation, justice and righteousness.

This is true for judges and military leaders as well as parliament members; and should be prayed for leaders in every country around the world. Currently there is a crucial election process going on in the USA, which will likely affect many other nations, including Israel.

Some of those whom I most trust in the USA with spiritual discernment believe that Cruz would be the best candidate. (Perhaps we should pray for a "cruse" of oil for him.) In any case, we should pray for both aspects of the anointing oil: to empower the right candidate and to provide wisdom for the future.

This article was previously published on 24Mar16 here on the Revive Israel website and on 01Apr16 here on Kehila News Israel

Paul's Self-Description
by Asher Intrater, , Revive Israel

Recently I felt a dramatic loss in my hearing. I went to an ear specialist. The woman doctor was about my age and had a rather serious demeanor. She looked in my ear. Then she pulled out a primitive instrument, something like a letter opener, and said, "This might hurt a bit."

She dug the pointed object into my right ear and moved it around in a circular motion while I squirmed and gritted my teeth. She did the same with my left ear. Then she said, "This is getting a little tough, but I want to get it all out." She scraped and I screamed. After about a minute on each ear she held out two small, nut-sized plugs of dirt and wax. I sat there shaking and wiping my eyes, recovering from the experience.

But then I noticed something. All my hearing had returned - instantly! It was wonderful, beautiful. I felt like dancing! I went over to my "Dr. Serious" and gave her a big hug and kiss. Finally she grinned. I walked out and have never had a problem since.

Yeshua said, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now" (John 16:12).

What a shocking statement! We ask God to speak to us. However, the problem is not with His speaking but with our willingness or ability to hear what He wants to say. The problem is not with God's mouth but with our ears - or more properly, with our hearts.

Why can we not bear to hear what God wants to tell us? What does He want to tell you that you are unwilling to hear? Are there areas in which we really don't want to know the truth about ourselves? Yeshua said there are "still many things" like that.

For this reason God gives us the Holy Spirit on the inside, so that He can lead us into all the truth that we didn't want to hear (John 16:13). He tells it to us gently and lovingly on the inside, circumventing our tendency to want to "kill" the messenger who brings bad news. Let's pray, "Lord, help me to listen to the Holy Spirit on the inside. Help me to hear and bear up under the things you are trying to tell me. Amen."

This article was previously published on 07Apr16 here on the Revive Israel website

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