A Chosen Instrument

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by SueJLove, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. Monday, September 01, 2014, 3:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 9:1-31 (NIV).

    Murderous Threats

    Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, was chosen of God to be a servant of the Lord. Certain Jews opposed him, and eventually Stephen was seized and was brought before the Sanhedrin. False charges were brought against him. When asked if the charges were true, he addressed the Sanhedrin by giving them a history lesson. He told them about Jesus Christ, the promised seed of Abraham, beginning by reminding them of the promise God gave to Abraham, all the way up to telling them about how they had killed the Righteous One, and how he (Jesus) was standing at the right hand of God in heaven.

    The Jewish leaders were enraged. They stoned Stephen to death. Saul (Paul) approved of the killing of Stephen. A great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem. “Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison” (Ac. 8:3).

    Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

    Many Christians throughout the world are presently being faced with such “murderous threats” against their lives. Numerous followers of Christ are being severely persecuted and even put to death for their testimonies for Jesus Christ and his gospel of salvation. This type of persecution is coming to America, too, the likes of which we have never known. Yet, I believe it will result in the revival of the church and the salvation of many lives. Amen!

    A Light from Heaven

    As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

    “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

    “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

    The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

    We need to pray for our enemies, because God can turn them around. If he can change the heart of a man who had the power and the authority to persecute, arrest and kill followers of Christ, and did so, and if he can stop him dead in his tracks, while he was on the way to make prisoners of those who follow Jesus Christ, and if he could make that man into and apostle of Jesus Christ, and a leader in the church, and a writer of most of the New Testament epistles, then he can transform anyone, no matter how evil. Amen!

    Restored Sight

    In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

    “Yes, Lord,” he answered.

    The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

    “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

    But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

    Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

    We need to obey the Lord when he calls us to do something, even if logically it does not make sense to us. He will never ask us to do anything in direct conflict with his word or that which is opposed to his divine character and will. The same God who saved us from our sins and who delivered us out of slavery to sin can set any captive free, no matter how steeped in sin the person might be, and no matter how many wicked things that person has done.

    We judge people by human standards. The people God chooses to be his human instruments on this earth are rarely the ones we would choose. In fact, many times they are exactly who we, as humans, would not choose, and probably whom we would reject and cast aside. After all, Jesus Christ, the author of life, was a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and rejected, and we esteemed him not (See Is. 53). So, it makes sense that his servants (his representatives) would also be those who are despised and rejected.

    At Once

    Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.

    When God transforms a person’s heart, the person is truly transformed from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God (See: Ac. 26:16-18). He turns us away from living for sin and self, and He makes us new creations in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See Eph. 4:17-24). He teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled and upright lives in this present age while we wait for his return (See Tit. 2:11-14). In fact, Jesus Christ died so that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). A new life in Christ is a changed life, not a cleaned up old life. Amen!

    Saul (Paul) was walking in darkness until he was shown the light of truth. He was a persecutor and a murderer of Christians until God turned him around and changed him into a mighty proponent for the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ saves us from our sins, he does so because he has a purpose for our lives. We are not saved merely from hell and for heaven, but God has something he wants each and every one of us to do for his kingdom while we still walk the face of this earth. He transformed us to make us into instruments for his name and for his gospel. Yet, going along with that will mean that we will be hated, persecuted and perhaps even put to death for our testimonies for Christ.

    And, yet, what a wonderful transformation he has wrought in our lives that we should be called the children of God and co-heirs with Jesus Christ of the promise. Amen!

    I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012
    Based off Psalms 121-125

    I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
    My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
    He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
    Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
    I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
    My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
    I give thanks to Him.

    I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
    I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
    Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
    Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
    I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
    I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
    My home, now in heav’n.

    Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
    Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
    Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
    Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
    Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
    Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
    I can count on Him.

    CCW95A and adonaicole say Amen and like this.
  2. Thank you for sharing. Some people don't realize, there is a war going on. In some places, like Ukraine it is a physical war, everywhere is the spiritual war.
  3. Yes, that is so true. I think for those of us who live in America it can be easy to distance ourselves from what is going on in the world to the point to where we are unaffected by it. For the most part, here in America we have known little of war on our soil. We don't really know or understand how the rest of the world lives. Yet, I believe that will change one day. Yet, as you say, the spiritual battle is everywhere. The sad reality is that so many don't see and don't realize that they have fallen victim to Satan's lies and deceptions. Yet, I believe God has a day in mind when he will open the eyes of many who are now walking in darkness, and that he will bring them into the light of his grace and truth.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. That encouraged my heart.
    adonaicole likes this.
  4. Sue, Since man has a free will to choose life or death, blessing or cursing, what about "Saul", did God over ride his free will to save him? What do you suppose caused Jesus to unveil himself to this man who was killing his brothers and sisters?
    Do you think maybe someone in the church was praying and or coming against the powers of darkness so that he would see the light and error of his ways, after all Jesus did give us power over all the works of the Devil.
    I have not looked into what caused the Lord to do this, but I am sure there is a back story in scriptures that can give us this information.
    We know things just don't happen on their own, their had to be a cause and effect for Paul's salvation.
    Maybe what Stephen said while being stoned to death had a impact on what happened to Saul.

    Act 7:59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
    Act 7:60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
  5. I believe in the providence and sovereignty of God, and I believe in free will. Saul had the free will to tell Jesus "No". Jesus did not force him against his will. Romans 1 teaches us that God has revealed himself to all humankind so that humans are without excuse. Yet some choose to ignore God and to reject him and to go their own way.

    It was in the providence of God to choose Paul for this assignment. I believe Paul was chosen of God before he even created humans. Why he chose Paul I can't say. I could only speculate. But I believe God was preparing him his whole life, even when he was persecuting Christians. God did not lead him to sin in this way, but his former life made for quite a drastic turnabout that only God could get the glory for. God works in mysterious ways. He doesn't choose like we do. Yet Paul was God's perfect choice.

    I believe God created me to be who I am and to do what I do, and it was for such a time as this that I was born. I can see God's hand upon my life preparing me for this ministry, yet I would not be most human beings choice.

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