Patient Faithfulness

Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:

17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.

20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.

21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;

22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:

23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

24 And they glorified God in me.

Galatians 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

MEMORY VERSE: How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Romans 10:14-15

CENTRAL THOUGHT: We shouldn’t be discouraged when other people misunderstand or do not receive our ministry; rather, we should wait on God’s revelation, labor diligently, live faithfully, and patiently wait for God’s validation and His direction for our ministry to progress.


Our lesson today is illustrated by Paul’s experience among the early church when, as persecutor-turned-preacher, he began to minister to the very people he had once opposed. You can follow the story in the book of Acts and in the epistle to the Galatians, as he explains how God arrested him on the road to Damascus, how Ananias received God’s message and plan for Saul and came and prayed for him, and how he then preached to the Damascus Jews, proving that Jesus was the Messiah. Born in Tarsus, Paul had been brought up in Jerusalem, studying under an eminent doctor of the Jewish law, Gamaliel. By his own testimony, he had been a “Hebrew of the Hebrews” and a Pharisee. He had been right there participating in the trial and execution of Stephen. However, when he came face to face with Jesus in the vision, Paul surrendered to Him, counted his former high status and education as a loss, and never looked back.

The verses in Galatians tell us that soon after his conversion at Damascus he went for three years into Arabia. This is probably the period of “many days” mentioned in Acts 9:23. Scripture doesn’t fill in what he did for three years in this desert area. But he says in Galatians that he conferred not with flesh and blood. He didn’t want his authority to be from the disciples, but directly from Jesus. It was time well spent in personal study and communion with the Lord.

Acts 9:23-25 and II Corinthians 11:32-33 tell us that it was danger of the Jews lying in wait for him that forced him to flee Damascus at night, being hidden in a basket and let down through a window over the wall. He then went to Jerusalem, was regarded with apprehension by the other disciples, and taken in by Barnabas, who pleaded his case before the apostles and recommended him as a true convert and preacher of Jesus Christ. He spent some time preaching and doing God’s work faithfully until he was fully understood by the brethren in Judea.

I am reminded of an Old Testament prophet whose ministry seemed to have a slow take-off. For years Elisha labored with Elijah— quiet, behind-the-scenes, and low-profile. Elijah put Elisha through a series of tests to see whether he would go out on his own or faithfully stay through every kind of situation. Elisha stayed. He endured. He waited on Elijah. He attended to his needs as a servant unto a master. He was rewarded for his patient continuance in well-doing when he was able to see Elijah go up in the chariot of fire, caught up his mantle and proceeded to do God’s work empowered with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. He performed miracle after miracle and reached kings and important military men, lowly widows and children.

The spirit of patient waiting on God is particularly necessary in the lives of those who are messengers of God. Our memory verse reminds us of this important truth: in order to preach the gospel to others, we must receive it directly from God and then be sent. We can’t go on our own whims or in our own timing. Thank God for the example of Paul and the other apostles who would stay if God said, “Stay” and would lay down their lives and go when He said, “Go.”

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. Was Paul immediately received by all the Apostles and the church at large?
  2. What did Paul do for several years after his conversion?
  3. What did he NOT do after his conversion?
  4. What Old Testament prophet demonstrated the spirit of waiting on God?


When Paul wrote letters of instruction to his spiritual “sons,” Timothy and Titus, he often mentioned the importance of enduring hardship, fighting the good fight, and attending faithfully to the duties and studies of men of God. He gave instructions about the ordination of ministers: they were not to lay on hands “suddenly,” they were not to ordain “novices,” or ones newly come to the faith; they were to hear a matter completely through, with two or three witnesses, before making condemnations. All of these instructions were about waiting for the Lord’s correct time. As we have studied in this lesson, Paul was an example of what he taught these younger ministers. He knew the importance of waiting on God.

In I Corinthians 14 Paul instructs about the order of worship services. Again, the spirit of waiting on God was enjoined. Things were to be done decently, in order, and for edification. There was a time to keep silent and a time to speak. The atmosphere in the church was to be one of peace and not confusion. Wives were to be in submission to their husbands; the younger were to be in submission to the elders. Also, as the apostle Peter wrote, “all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility” (I Peter 5:5).

What a beautiful picture and precious privilege is laid out for the people of God in these teachings! It is His will that all strivings cease, all personal agendas are laid aside, and all hearts are tuned to His leading. Our responsibility is to make sure that when we preach we are truly being “sent.” My spirit should be in submission to what God is doing on the whole; my self-interests are to be surrendered and my heart quiet and still before him, waiting for His voice.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


In less than a year after I entered the ministry, I inherited a congregation. I had moved to Dallas to assist the ailing pastor who died shortly thereafter. All hopes of me easing into the ministry died that day as well. I had hoped to be mentored—to work under someone older until I had gained sufficient experience. Now I was alone and felt it keenly.

The congregation was going through a major transition, from having an older “seasoned” minister to a young inexperienced one with only a handful of sermons to his credit. I felt the weight of my own inadequacy and they felt the struggle. Within the next year, the congregation would lose all but two families and there would be many Sunday mornings when my family worshiped alone.

Those were difficult times. Times when we questioned the Lord about the purpose for us being there and requested permission to leave, only to be reproved by His silence. We were certain that He had sent us and were convinced that we could not leave without His express permission. So, we stayed and waited—in the dark, in a place that felt deserted.

As we waited, we learned. We learned that waiting is an essential ingredient of faith. We learned that obedience is a vital component as well. We learned the imperative of distinguishing the voice of God above the cacophony of all other voices—even our own.

We learned that there are times when God removes the “middleman” and personally guides us to a more intimate revelation of Himself. We must truly know Him for ourselves and not merely through the revelation of those in whom we’ve had confidence.

We learned that eventually, our faith becomes sight. What we cannot see during the dark time, God illuminates in due time. What we didn’t understand before, we see clearly now.

The lessons are universal. We must all learn to accept and embrace our own desert places where we abandon ourselves to God and He reveals Himself to us. It is upon this personal revelation of himself that God builds the ministry He has chosen for us.

—Bro. Darrell Johnson