GOOD THINGS VS. GOD THINGS
Lord, help me to speak only those things which help.
Read ACTS 22:6–21
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.’ ”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“I just want to do God’s will” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929–1968). Pray that you can say the same.
Luke has already narrated the events leading to Paul‘s conversion (Acts 9:1–19). However, this time the story is told from Paul’s perspective. He provides a time reference (6) and describes the light as “bright.” The words of the heavenly voice and Paul’s response are almost identical in both accounts, although in this account Paul’s companions see the light but do not understand the voice, whereas in the earlier account, Luke states that the companions “heard the sound but did not see anyone” (Acts 9:7). In Paul’s speech, we also find out more about Ananias, in particular his piety and standing among Jews. His commission to Paul from God is also expanded.
Apart from the odd detail above, nothing thus far differs from Luke’s first narration of this event. However, the next part is new. Paul reports a second vision that he received from God while in the temple in Jerusalem. Paul argues with God about leaving Jerusalem, as he believes his background would be a powerful testimony to the Jews and bring about a receptiveness to the message of salvation through Jesus. Paul’s desire to witness to Jews is not wrong—it simply is not what God wants for him, at least at this time. God’s task for Paul is to reach out to the Gentiles (21).
Each of us has our own unique story of how we met Jesus and received a unique God-given task. It might not be as dramatic as Paul’s, and our task might seem much less impressive, but that is not what counts with God. What counts is obedience to what God desires for us and a willingness to relinquish the “good things” for the “God things.” It takes discernment to know what is God’s will, but we can be sure that if we earnestly desire it, he is more than capable of making it plain to us!
Are there any “good things” you need to relinquish?
Lord, teach me to discern Your will even in the most dire circumstances.
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