In Isolation Thoughts 2

Hymn: All the way my Saviour leads me

Bible Reading: Acts 22.1-21

How it all began!

There was a riot in the city, Paul had been protected by the Roman Soldiers and taken to the barracks. He requested that he was given an opportunity to defend himself against the accusations of the mob. In view of the situation, it is quite surprising that the Roman Officer allowed this to happen, did he think that a speech might pacify the crowd? He was taking a risk, but he had enough soldiers present to deal with any outcome, they were armed soldiers and the crowd were civilians. Paul was allowed to speak.

His Early Life

Paul is giving his testimony, remember that Luke had not yet written the Book of Acts, so the record of Paul’s conversion was not in the public domain. Paul speaks in Aramaic, their language, which drew their attention.  He sets out his credentials as Jewish Teacher, or Rabbi. He was totally immersed in the OT and studied the laws of the nation. He had the best teacher, studied hard and became proficient in all things pertaining to the law. In his own words, he had become fully dedicated to preserving the Jewish Laws and their observance. Anything that was contrary had to be opposed and opposed with a strong action. He was God’s soldier for the faith, the Jewish faith, he was its protector and defender. A new sect was emerging, The Way, this had to be opposed and crushed. Paul led the attack; arrests, prison and death were used to attempt to quash this heresy. His attack was not just local, he obtained arrest warrants to be used in the wider region, he was going to Damascus to continue his work and bring the followers to Jerusalem to be dealt with under the law.

His Changed Life

On the way to Damascus his plans were disrupted. An event that would change his life forever, that would stop him in his tracks and end his attack on The Way. He described to the crowd what happened on the road. His encounter with Jesus. He was challenged about his actions against the followers of Jesus, but it was seen as an attack on Jesus, personally. Paul described his reaction to this confrontation as being totally submissive, the bold warrior for the Jewish faith is silenced and brought to his knees. His mission was thwarted, and his intentions defeated. Life had to change for him immediately. He had met Jesus and life could never be the same.

His Obedient Life

From being the proactive zealot for the OT laws and ways he became, initially, submissive to the will of God. The life of Paul was changed, he lost his sight, he was led, what a comedown for the leader, he had to wait for instructions instead of giving them, he was in isolation rather than the centre of attention. This was a difficult time for him, his world had been shattered, his aims rejected and he was left waiting for something to happen. After waiting, he was contacted by Ananias, another devout law observer, who explained what God wanted. God had a new plan for Paul, he is reminded that God does not change, that God is in control and chooses His servants. His mission is to be a witness to all people about Christ. What a difference from being the persecutor! He is baptised as a witness to the changed life.

 

Paul then told the crowd that he went back to Jerusalem, was worshipping in the Temple, when he was spoken to by the Lord. He was told to leave the city because he was in danger. Paul tried to defend his position by highlighting his previous zeal, his role at the death of Stephen. God is insistent, he had to leave the city, he would go to distant lands and would be God’s witness to the Gentiles.

Your Life: Changed and Obedient?

Paul gives us an example to follow but it raises some important questions. Do we have zeal? This is a little used word these days, perhaps commitment and enthusiasm are more recognisable. What are you committed to? When does your enthusiasm show? Does anything dilute your actions? Paul was clear, his zeal was full-time for the Lord, though initially misdirected. This does raise a question; did he need to be fighting the battle to be open to the Lord? So are we sometimes misguided in our intentions? God can use anyone and redirect their focus.

This brings us to the next question, have our lives been changed by Jesus? No-one can doubt the total directional change that meeting Jesus brought to Paul’s life. Who influences the direction of our lives? Have you met with the risen Jesus and surrendered to Him who died to freely give you eternal life?

The third area is that of obedience. Once his life had been changed, his commitment to Jesus was total, where he was directed to go, he went, with no regard for the danger or problems. Are we obedient to God’s leading, do we go willingly and are we open to be led?

Zeal, change and obedience meant the Gospel spread across the world, what influence are you making in your world today? To influence needs commitment and obedience, then you will see the impact of change.

Prayer

Hymn: Have Thine own way


Page last updated: 3rd July 2021 11:49 AM
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