Lesson 10 -- fourth quarter 2005
November 6, 2005
© Copyright 2005, Christian Light Publications
Probing Your Own Heart
Can the Lord readily change your mind?
How is your commitment to the Lord and His truth?
Building on Some Foundational Concepts
Jesus takes personally how we treat His followers.
Jesus declared plainly to Saul that he was persecuting Him by persecuting His followers. He has declared to us just as plainly that He takes just as personally our treatment of His people. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). "But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ" (1 Corinthians 8:12). Are we listening to Him? Does this matter to us?
Saul purposed to serve God.
Saul's heart was set toward God and service for Him. Being "zealous toward God," he thought himself required "to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 22:3; 26:9). Then he made the shocking discovery of his own ignorance (1 Timothy 1:13). His mistake lay not in his purpose to serve God but in his understanding of God. When the Lord showed him the truth, he "was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19). God expects similar openness and flexibility from us His followers today.
Obscurity is a matter of perspective.
Ananias, that "certain disciple," lived in obscurity, flashed in the darkness for a very brief time, and then faded again. But that is only our perspective...and how poorly we see! He never was obscure before God. God never lost His awareness of Ananias nor of His plan for him. The fact that he flashes only briefly before our eyes in the Biblical record in no way proves that he was only briefly useful to God. Though we may be obscure in man's vision, let's continue our faithful service to God, before whom we are continually visible.
Questions and Responses
How could Ananias accept Saul so readily?
"Lord, I have heard...how much evil he hath done to thy saints" (Acts 9:13). To the human mind, that seems like ample reason to avoid someone. In fact, it is even enough reason to eschew and detest a person. So how could Ananias accept Saul? The key to the answer surely lies here: "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me" (Acts 9:15). When Ananias knew that God accepted Saul, how could he reject him? As the Apostle John wrote years after that, "he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (1 John 4:20).
Did the Christians of his day pray for Saul?
It seems like they would have because they surely would have remembered Jesus' words on the subject. "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).
The human mind understandably rebels at praying for someone like Saul. "Look. Let's get this straight. I will pray for non-Christians. But pray for anti-Christians? What idealism! What a waste of time!" This kind of attitude reveals despicable arrogance. Do we truly think we are that much better than the Sauls, Saddam Husseins, and Osama bin Ladens of the world? Such an attitude also minimizes the magnitude and effectiveness of the price God paid at Calvary.
God may bring a real Saul of Tarsus into our lives, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1). Will we pray for his salvation then? Not out of fear for our own hide, but out of love for his soul? I can only hope so. But given my track record in praying for the heathen dictators, "inhuman" terrorists, careless check stand employees, corrupt politicians, mean-spirited drivers, and fraudulent preachers of today...I wonder.
Why doesn't the Lord speak to me as He did to Ananias and Saul?
If He needs to, He will. In the meantime, don't overlook that whole book of His communication to you. Do you listen to that? Read it and meditate on it -- He will speak to you!
Oh...why do you want Jesus to speak to you as He did to them?
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