THIS WEEK’S FOCUSED SCRIPTURE
Acts 26:14-18 (NIV) – 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[a] ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
THOUGHTS FROM JERRY
For most Christians, the story of Saul turning into Paul is a tale as old as time. I remember learning about the man who fell to the ground and was blinded by the Lord on his way to persecute Christians. Jesus spoke to him in that moment and from then on, Paul’s life changed forever. I love this story because it is a picture of what happens when we as believers have an encounter with Jesus.
Throughout Paul’s childhood, he studied and knew the law like some of us study and know the OKC Thunder. He believed so strongly in the law, that when people started to believe in Jesus, he would persecute them. His actions followed his belief. But when he met Jesus, everything about Paul changed.
His actions were no longer persecuting Christians but trying to tell everyone about Christ. The fascinating thing about this story is when Jesus starts to tell Paul his purpose. Jesus says, “…to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them.” The first thing Jesus does is give Paul an identity. Paul is a servant of God and servant of people. Secondly, Jesus gives Paul a mission. Paul is a witness of what God has done and what He will do. Thirdly, Jesus gives Paul a calling. Jesus says He is sending Paul to his own people; the very people Paul was rescued from. The thing about a calling that I believe is often confusing for most of us, is that God doesn’t call us to a position, but often to a people. The things that Paul had gone through were in preparation for the people he was going to reach. The place where he grew up, the interests he had, and the struggles he wrestled with were all in preparation for the people God had specifically designed and purposed Paul to reach.
What would happen if we started looking at our past as the preparation for the purpose God has for each of us? I believe strongly that some of the addictions, trials, and mistakes we have made in our past will become the very things that we build our ministries on. We often trust and listen to people who have experience in a certain field. Can I tell you that some people will listen to you because you have an authority over the demons and obstacles that they’re facing, because you’ve already overcome them? The same God that rescued Paul from persecuting Christians is the same God who sent Paul back to minister to the persecutors. God has rescued you from something; now He wants to send you back to help others become free. You are a relatable inspiration to those who are trapped with the same chains you once bore. You can and, I believe, will be used by God to make a difference. So, let’s do it!