VIDEO God’s Overpowering Purpose

I have appeared to you for this purpose… —Acts 26:16

The vision Paul had on the road to Damascus was not a passing emotional experience, but a vision that had very clear and emphatic directions for him. And Paul stated, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). Our Lord said to Paul, in effect, “Your whole life is to be overpowered or subdued by Me; you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine.” And the Lord also says to us, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go…” (John 15:16).

When we are born again, if we are spiritual at all, we have visions of what Jesus wants us to be. It is important that I learn not to be “disobedient to the heavenly vision” — not to doubt that it can be attained. It is not enough to give mental assent to the fact that God has redeemed the world, nor even to know that the Holy Spirit can make all that Jesus did a reality in my life. I must have the foundation of a personal relationship with Him. Paul was not given a message or a doctrine to proclaim. He was brought into a vivid, personal, overpowering relationship with Jesus Christ. Acts 26:16 is tremendously compelling “…to make you a minister and a witness….” There would be nothing there without a personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person, not to a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s. He saw nothing else and he lived for nothing else. “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Crises reveal character. When we are put to the test the hidden resources of our character are revealed exactly.  Disciples Indeed, 393 R


44 Acts 26-27 – Pastor Chuck Smith – C2000 Series

This Is Grace

God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah .Acts 2:36

Les Misérables begins with paroled convict Jean Valjean stealing a priest’s silver. He’s caught, and he expects to be returned to the mines. But the priest shocks everyone when he claims he’d given the silver to Valjean. After the police leave, he turns to the thief, “You belong no longer to evil, but to good.”

Such extravagant love points to the love that flowed from the fountain from which all grace comes. On the day of Pentecost, Peter told his audience that less than two months before, in that very city, they had crucified Jesus. The crowd was crushed and asked what they must do. Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Jesus had endured the punishment they deserved. Now their penalty would be forgiven if they put their faith in Him.

Oh, the irony of grace. The people could only be forgiven because of Christ’s death—a death they were responsible for. How gracious and powerful is God! He’s used humanity’s greatest sin to accomplish our salvation. If God has already done this with the sin of crucifying Jesus, we may assume there’s nothing He can’t turn into something good. Trust the One who “in all things . . . works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Have you given yourself to Jesus? If not, what’s holding you back? If you have, what will it mean for you to give your fears to Him as well?

Dear Father, thank You for Your extravagant love that rescued me from my sin. Please take all my fears and help me to trust You.

Learn more about having a personal relationship with God

Sunday Reflection: Growing in Obedience

God teaches us obedience so our faith will increase and our life will be transformed

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

Any good gardener will tell you the importance of staking new plants. The braces provide support and help plants grow straight and tall. In teaching us obedience, the Lord similarly redirects our natural inclinations so we can grow in a Godward direction.

As we mature in our faith, we see that the Lord is teaching us how to submit ourselves to Him in ways both big and small. And yet He never forces us to comply. That means obedience isn’t passive; it’s a decision we make again and again until we’ve completed our time on earth.

Remember that even Jesus practiced the discipline of submission, and—as always—He serves as our role model (Heb. 5:7-8). Like Him, we must choose to live obediently, even when what we’re being asked to do is hard or painful. This willingness to listen and follow, no matter what the cost, glorifies God and transforms us in ways we never imagined (2 Cor. 9:13).

Think about it

• Have you been fighting against the Lord’s guidance? How can you begin to make a better choice and grow in obedience to Him?

The Queen of Sheba

“And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.” (1 Kings 10:1)

A thousand years after the famous visit of Sheba’s queen to the court of King Solomon, Jesus made a remarkable spiritual application of her experience. “The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here” (Matthew 12:42).

Solomon had prayed for wisdom, and the Lord gave him such legendary wisdom that the news even reached the distant land of Sheba, south of Ethiopia. We do not know what hard questions were confronting Sheba’s queen, but she finally decided she must find their solutions through Solomon and his God. God honored her searching faith, “and Solomon told her all her questions,” so that she could testify that “the half was not told me….Blessed be the LORD thy God” (1 Kings 10:3, 7, 9).

In Jesus Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). He who had given Solomon his great wisdom promises us that “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

Truly the queen of Sheba will be a witness against our present generation in the coming day of judgment. People today turn to every variety of humanistic counselors for their training and guidance but refuse to come to the one who is “made unto us wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:30). The “Wonderful Counsellor” (Isaiah 9:6), who is far greater than Solomon, who said “I am…the truth” (John 14:6), and who promises that “the truth shall make you free” (8:32), is still inviting all from the uttermost parts of the earth to come. HMM

Glorious Proclamation

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. The instruction of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You,O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19 vv. 1, 7, 14).

No nobler, more majestic psalm has ever been written about God’s revelation than Psalm 19. It tells us how God took the initiative to reveal himself to us—a concept beyond my comprehension. He did not leave us in darkness; he communicated through the sky and the Scripture.

Creation reveals God’s invisible qualities. His power and divine nature can be seen clearly in what he has made (Rom. 1). He holds each of us accountable for our response to this revelation. If we respond favorably, he sends more revelation (Acts 10). If we suppress this truth, we have no excuse!

Our Heavenly Father, a creative virtuoso, dazzles us with his power and might. Yet because he wants to be close to us, he bridged the distance between us with his Word, making possible an intimate relationship. His Word is perfect, restorative, and trustworthy (v. 7). It brings wisdom, joy, radiance, and light (vv. 7-8). His ordinances are pure, eternal, sure, and righteous (v. 9), They are more precious than gold and sweeter than honey (v. 10), Living on the basis of the law has it’s own great reward (v. 11).

The compelling message of the lyric, “But Greater Still,” convinces me that the value of God’s Word defies description. Its worth to me is intensely personal. It nourishes my soul, and it’s truth sets me free.

Personal Prayer

O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer,

may the words of my mouth

and the meditation of my heart

be pleasing in your sight.

Correcting Your Doubt

Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”—Matthew 14:31

While it is possible for us to distinguish between doubt and unbelief in theory, it is not so easy in practice. Doubt can move in the direction of unbelief and cross the borderline, but when it does, it ceases to be doubt. The idea of “total” or “complete” doubt is a contradiction in terms, for doubt that is total can no longer be classified as doubt; it is unbelief.

Os Guinness points out that when we attempt to undertake a biblical analysis of doubt, we can come out with either a “hard” or “soft” view of the subject. Those who take a “soft” view of doubt point to how vastly different doubt is from unbelief, and those who take a “hard” view of doubt point out its similarities.

Both views can be drawn out of the Scriptures. Error is usually truth out of balance, and it is important, therefore, that we get a balanced view of what the Bible has to say about doubt. In my view it can be summarized like this—doubt is not the same as unbelief, but unless cor–rected, doubt can naturally lead to unbelief.

This view has helped me avoid what I consider to be the extremes of being too hard or too soft on doubt. It is a condition which must be regarded as serious, but it need not be fatal. Don’t allow your doubts to bring you into condemnation, for when faced and brought into clear perspective, they can be the catalyst to a deeper pursuit of God.

Prayer

Father, when will I learn that in You all things serve—even doubt? Show me how to turn my doubts into stepping stones and use them to come into an even closer relationship with You. Amen.

Further Study

Mt 6:30; 8:1-26; 16:8

What phrase did Jesus often use?

What did He say of the centurion?

Confessions of a Teacher of Holiness

John 17:17

It is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified.” As a Salvationist teacher and preacher of holiness, I have heard that call and rejoice to proclaim it to others. Gladly I bear witness to its reality and redemptive power in my own experience. Still, I confess concerns as to the adequacy of my presentation of this grand truth and the extent to which we effectively embody it.

I wonder if we espouse a kind of holiness that is not tough enough. J. I. Packer speaks trenchantly of a modern preference for “hot tub religion,” which soothes our troubled spirits and makes but few demands. Is our holiness far too fragile to see us through the traumas of life? We face a determined and powerful enemy who seeks to destroy us. We need an experience that makes us tough enough to triumph in life’s inevitable encounters.

I also confess that I sometimes wonder whether our holiness is truth-centered enough, grounded firmly enough in the truth of Scripture, rather than based upon the experience of others. Jesus Himself said, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). It is our certainty of the truth that gives stability to faith and integrity to experience.

Further, is my approach to holiness total enough? Is our holiness too therapeutic in its emphasis? There are dangers of beginning with our human problems instead of God’s purpose. Is my approach to holiness sometimes too cosmetic? Holiness deals with the essential inner orientation of the personality. The self dies hard. The cross is painful and total.

I must confess that I have sometimes had cause to wonder if the holiness I profess and proclaim has made me tender enough. The truth is that we live in an age that is seductively desensitizing us to evil. What once might have appalled and embarrassed us, perhaps even angered us, now only makes us sad. What would it take to make us cry out in indignation? What miscarriage of justice, what indifference to standards of integrity, what crass immorality would move us to tears and stir us to action? How much do I care about purity, justice and integrity?

Finally, is my holiness telling enough? Our age cries out for men and women of God whose lives stand in stark contrast to the darkness that surrounds us.

May the Lord direct our hearts to a holiness that is tough enough, truth-centered enough, total enough, tender enough and telling enough.

Paul A. Rader, The Salvationist Pulpit