I love those 3 verses in Acts, chapter 9. Here, in the passage, Dr. Luke records an excerpt that defies logic and predictability. It concerns a man named Saul, of Tarsus: “At once (in other words, without delay), he (Saul of Tarsus, now called, Paul) began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him (which were many) were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised chaos in Jerusalem (the epicenter of religion) among those (Christians; Christ-followers) who call on his name (the name of Jesus)? And hasn’t he (Paul) come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’ Yet, Saul (also Paul) grew more and more influential and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 9, vv.20-22). Note: Info appearing in ( ) is added.
Saul of Tarsus, who was called and referred to as Paul after his Christ filled conversion, went from old to new – from death to life – from religion to relationship – from condemnation to conversion – when the Lord Almighty met him on that road. Nothing was ever the same again. His life, the Christian Church, the Mission of God in the world was changed and impacted from that day forward.
There is no indication from scripture that Saul, the Christian hunter who had been licensed to capture and return Christians to Jerusalem was ever made aware that this cataclysmic event would occur. No where are we told or are led to believe that he anticipated going from darkness to light; that he had o.k.’d this work of God in advance. No, he wasn’t consulted by the Most High. Yet, he was converted from old to new. God Himself, in His vision and plan, set apart Paul for the work of the Gospel – without getting Paul’s consent and prior written approval.
Friends, we are reminded that God is still at work in this world. Even when we can’t see it, don’t have knowledge or direct sight of it, or when it feels like it’s been a while since we last captured a glimpse – God is at work in deep, profound, life-changing ways. You see, God goes much deeper than anything we can imagine. He knows the heart of man – and more importantly, He knows what’s “in” the heart of man. We are merely invited to participate, pray, and proactively go for Him, for His Kingdom, for His work. But in all honesty – we do so little. His work is the work that reigns supreme. We are merely vehicles of His grace, love, and joy; giving all praise and honor back to Him.
Paul wrote this line in his letter to the Church in Philippi: “I can do all things in Christ, Who strengthens me” (4, v.13). Do you want to know where the real battle is today? Do you want to know how one word, in this statement out of Philippians 4, v.13, can change the whole perspective. Consider this, and consider the contention of it: “I can do all things in myself, who strengthens me.” Did you get it? The real contention and battle today is in showing people how “we” can convince ourselves that we can somehow, someway, strengthen ourselves. Many people are believing it – many people are trying it.
I know because I have been there. I know because I know how empty of a lie it is. Sure, some to appear to do o.k., and some may even be sufficient for themselves for seasons of life. But I submit to you that in them, deep down where no one else can go or access – there is a major void. There is a vacuum that is unfilled – a seed that hasn’t been tended. Again, I know. Some will look it over and continue to believe: “I can do all things in myself, who strengthens me.” Saul of Tarsus, Paul – came to the end of himself and to all of his “self” strength, and it all started when God got his attention. That was the beginning of life, real life, for Paul. And it can be the beginning of life, real life, for each and every one of us. Don’t think the experience or the encounter will be, or has to be, the same. Each one varies. Just know God’s presence is real and simply be open to what God is saying, revealing, or convicting you of. His grace has gone before us. His grace is here. He is faithful in all things!
Just some encouragement for the day, I hope. If you have come to the end of yourself – if you are seeking peace that passes understanding – if you want to believe but feel you lack in faith – let me know. Email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will help in whatever capacity I can.
In His love,