Jul 16, 2013

Obedient to the heavenly vision

Acts 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and [then] to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

In this little snippet from Paul's life in the word of God, we see one of the ingredients of the making of a mighty man of God. Obedience to the heavenly vision. When we get the call, it is accompanied by a heavenly vision (If not immediately, in due course). Atleast God shows the path ahead in some form (as clear as the maturity of the called person, maybe). Here was a man who was fanatic about the doctrine of the pharisees, passionately rejecting christ when he was initially ignorant of the truth, and then equally passionately defending Christ in all forums, right up to the king's palace. The words of Jesus about Paul’s calling clearly conveyed the details of whom to convey the word to, and the glory of suffering for Christ’s sake.

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Acts 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.

Here in Acts 26, we see Paul being a very effective witness before one of the people whom God commissioned him to go to. King Agrippa (Remember, his calling included to witness to kings). He humbly starts with a brief on his times of ignorance which the lord winked at – the times of misguided zeal which the lord broke on his steed’s back (kind of zapped him to obedience!). This was a man who traversed many countries to persecute the true church of God – thinking it to be against the doctrine which he was familiar with.

We also have been part of this grave error – where we have often brutally criticized the real doctrine of God according to the word of God (often in defense of the religious observations which we were familiar with – which were formed by traditions of men and which were against the word of God). How kindly has God dealt with us in bringing us back to the right doctrine and how mightily he is still using many Paul’s and other zealous men after they have been broken by him. Now he is humbly addressing the king Agrippa as well as Festus, cleanly defending his position and even an insanity charge (Act 26:24).

Acts 26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
Acts 26:17 Delivering thee from the people, and [from] the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

We see Paul fully committed and obedient to his real calling in Christ. Oh the glory and reality of a call from the heavenlies. I crave for such clarity and presence of God in my calling (yet, in my heart I know, the same God who spoke to Paul is still there – and he is very much alive and yes, he is still speaking to us). Such obedience will result in mountain-moving evangelism – and Agrippa himself testifies. The king finds him blameless and lets him go.

Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

PS: When we see the rest of the word, we also remember humbly the sufferings that paul went through.
A few afflictions of paul as mentioned in 2Cor 11:23-27 (KJV)
2Cor 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I [am] more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
2Cor 11:24 Of the Jews five times received I forty [stripes] save one.
2Cor 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
2Cor 11:26 [In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren;
2Cor 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

 Finally it's all about being obedient to the heavenly vision – at any cost. Since the suffering is just while we are soujourners on this earth. But the glory in the lord’s presence is for eternity ! And eternity is a long long time ! Let us patiently work for the eternal things and worry less for the things of this earth.

2Cor 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory;