To Know His Will
A daily devotion for July 21st
22 1 “Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
2 When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Then Paul said: 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. 4 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 “About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
8 “‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. 9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
10 “‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ 11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
12 “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.
14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’
17 “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Quick!’ he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’
19 “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. 20 And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’
21 “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”
Paul the Roman Citizen
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He’s not fit to live!”
23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks. He directed that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. 25 As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What are you going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I am,” he answered.
28 Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.”
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
29 Those who were about to interrogate him withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.
A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said,Acts 22:12-16Brother Saul, receive your sight!And at that very moment I was able to see him. Then he said:The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.
Paul recounts his own conversion experience to this enraged mob which had just been ready to tear him limb from limb! I am sure that if I had been in his shoes I would have been trying to get out of there as fast as possible. But Paul recognizes this as his opportunity and he wants to be the instrument to reach this stubborn crowd. So he seizes the only opportunity he has, hoping the Lord will give him success, and he tells of his own conversion and specifically the role which Ananias played.
The details of this event are etched into the memory of the apostle. Though it occurred thirty years before, he has never forgotten a single detail. This was the moment he was chosen to be an apostle, and Ananias conveyed the commission to him. It had three parts, three aspects of ministry.
First, he was chosen to know the will of God. Now, that was not where God wanted him to go, or what God wanted him to do. What Paul had to learn was that the will of God is a relationship to his Son. When Paul understood that, he had all the power he needed to do anything God asked him to do. So many young Christians struggle at this point. They think that the will of God is some kind of itinerary they must discover, that if they can just find where God wants them to go, and what he wants them to do next, then they can do the will of God. No. The Scriptures make clear that the will of God is a relationship. It is your attitude of expectancy that Jesus Christ, living in you, will work through you. When you expect him to do that, you are in the will of God. Everything you do is in the will of God. Do anything you like, then, because it will be in God's will, unless the Holy Spirit within you indicates otherwise, according to his Word. That is what Paul learned — the power by which a Christian lives his life.
Next, Paul looks back and says,
This is what made me an apostle. I have seen Jesus Christ many times. He has appeared to me, and talked to me. He told me, directly and personally, the things that the other apostles learned when they were with him as disciples. That is how I know them. Motivated by the love of Jesus Christ and an awareness of the majesty of his Person, Paul pushed on ceaselessly, out into the far regions of earth, performing his apostolic ministry.
Finally, Paul heard a voice from the Lord's mouth, what his message was to be — to declare what Jesus Christ had said to him. It was the same message Jesus had given to the twelve, in the days of his flesh. That is how they knew that Paul was a true apostle — because he knew what they knew. That constitutes the same message that God has for all of us today — the words of his mouth, which Jesus had given to the Apostle Paul.
Father, thank you that you have commissioned me as well to bear witness to your great work in my life. Help me to be faithful to that call.
Life Application: What are three vital aspects of the Apostle Paul's calling which apply to all who seek to know and follow God's will? Do we attempt to define or limit his will to a specific place, a particular activity?
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