Thursday, January 27, 2011

Acts 26

"And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'  

How very kind that the King of the Universe spoke in Paul's native language.  He could have chosen any language or method of causing Paul to comprehend; but the Most High Sovereign God spoke the language Paul had heard from birth.  

Thank You God that You are that detail-oriented with each of Your children.  You don't give a generic call to the masses; rather a specific drawing on the most intimate part of an individual.  Your kindness and creativity are to be praised.  Thank You that each story is different as a result.  You are not boring.

And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers... 

How am I standing for the Hope?   Would my faith get me in trouble like Paul or do I look too similar to the world to be of any interest to the enemy?  

God, please give me a heart to get in trouble like Paul.  Let me be a rogue for You.  Help me to not just seek the open doors; but to know, through divine wisdom, which ones need to come down to the glory and praise of Your Kingship.  I am too often timid; heal me of that deceptive quality.  You and You alone are worthy. 

While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, "Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad."
But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth...

Agrippa replied to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian."

And Paul said, "I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains."  

  Paul's words are still being heard today.  That's a powerful testimony.

Festus has apparently hardened himself to the grace offered.  Agrippa appears to be somewhat moved by grace.  The sad results are the same - neither chose the gift of grace.  Neither came to receive the hope extended.  A hard heart or an intellectual assent to a persuasive argument are not changed hearts.  Not saved.  

God, help me to be careful to not smoothly present Your grace so that someone is merely convinced to be saved.  The Gospel act is only received through the work of the Holy Spirit on that one.  Keep me "uttering words of sober truth" for I am convinced that it is only You who draws and saves.  Let this be my aim  "whether in a short or long time...that all who hear me ..., might become such as I (Paul) am, except for these chains."

What am I saying and does it lead to Christ?  Father make me more concerned about the hearts of others and less about my schedule, my reputation, my "deal".  Help me to remember when I don't speak words of sober truth that I am in effect saying, "I choose to let you go to eternal punishment."  May all that is hindering me diminish in Your glorious and undiminishable Presence that I will steward Your precious gift well and to the expanse of Your Kingdom.

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