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Saul’s life changed when his vision changed. When his vision changed Saul became Paul and the world became a different place. 

Romans 11:13 (ESV) Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry

Apostle – A Greek Idea 

For An Athenian To Be Designated as An Apostle was a great Honor. An apostle was charged with great responsibility. The Greek word dates to the 5th century BC. An Apostle was a leader, settler, and wielded great authority. Apostles were able to make decisions and legally bind those represented.  

When Paul referred to himself as an apostle he was embracing a mission and a vision to establish Jesus’ kingdom on earth.

  • What images and definitions does the word Apostle bring to mind? Why?

Acts 9:1-2 (NLT) Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. 2 He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains.

Saul’s Vision

Saul Had A Vision, Before He Became The visionary Apostle Paul. Saul was concerned with his own self-advancement. Saul directed his life toward Phariseeism. His education, practices, skills, and work were all aimed at his advancement in and the expansion of Judaism. He had SOOO much to be proud of. But, he was filled with hate. It’s difficult to imagine that the man who wrote 1 Cor 13 was so filled with hate. Maybe Stephen triggered Saul’s anger. If you think about it. Paul had worked diligently in his faith and to establish his own righteousness. And then for Stephen to claim he had discovered the Messiah, must have been infuriating for Saul.

Don’t We All Have A “Vision” For Our Life? Isn’t it a Godless Vision for the most part? Of course, it may not necessarily be void of God, but is it God’s Vision? Or, is it your vision? Haven’t you worked hard on your vision? What happens to you when your vision gets questioned, or disrespected? So, we shouldn’t be too hard on Saul. 

When was the last time you considered your Vision? God’s Vision Isn’t going to assist you in accomplishing your vision. This erroneous thinking is going to ruin a lot of people.  We cannot just dream up things and ask God to bless them.  Even if we think they are for His glory.

Here is a point of reflection, for all of us: Where am I investing my life and resources? My vision or God’s Kingdom?

I am afraid the answer is TERRIFYINGLY simple and easy to find. Where do your time and money go?

  • Why do you think Paul persecuted Jesus’ followers so intensely at the first? What might Paul’s goals have been?
  • How could our life’s goals cause harm to others? How do we make sure that out goals and God’s vision are in sync?

Acts 9:15-16 (NLT) But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

God’s Vision

There Is A Message. God The Father sent God the Son. God the Son, became God’s only Son by birth. God the Son, submitted completely to the Father. He left his divine power and privilege in heaven with the Father. And, everything He did on earth He accomplished by the power of God and the Holy Spirit within him. In doing so, He became an illustration of what it would be like to live by faith, believing, and the power of God’s Spirit.

Jesus Christ is the answer you seek.If you are in trouble in a way you cannot articulate but you can feel deeply. If you feel you are alone in ways that are never quite satisfied. If you are your own worst critic, saboteur or  enemy. If you are drowning in a way that defies articulation, but it is real just the same.

Romans 1:16-17 (NLT) 16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 

There Is Power. With Salvation and Forgiveness, you too can be forgiven. If only you will release your past successes and failures and surrender it all to Jesus. 

For Restoration and Healing. Jesus came to heal. The healing no one else can see is the most important and least pursued. Your life is wrapped in the “grave clothes” of your past. You have abuses, lies, strongholds, unforgiveness, and pain – so much pain. Jesus will heal that if you will work with Him.  And, the healing that can be seen. God does heal. God stills delivers. Healing is an issue of glory, authority, and trust. I will trust God to heal me, AND I will trust God while I wait for His healing.

For Suffering. I confess that I do not understand the power of suffering and martyrdom. I can testify that it was suffering and martyrdom that founded our faith. I can also testify that the Roman government that so brutally persecuted the believers in the first century is long gone. The gospel for which those early Christians died has outlived all of its persecutors. 

I also confess that I believe suffering is in our future. I believe that many of those who wear the name “Christian” will eventually abandon it. Not because faith in Christ is weak, but because Christ’s way is not man’s way. Loving your enemies doesn’t make sense when they are killing your people.

There Is Value. Has it ever occurred to you that you don’t actually know what is valuable? Would you know a diamond from cubic zirconia? Gold from Pyrite? Suffering and serving are far more valuable and powerful than you know. How valuable is it… To live in a relationship with God? To be forgiven and free from all that has assaulted and previously defined you? And, to share that freedom with others?.

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

How’s Your Vision? Is it possible that like Saul, your vision is doing more harm than good? What is next year going to look like for you? If it was more about God’s vision than yours, what would that be like?

  • Why do Christians suffer? Why do you think God allows it? Does any good come from it?
  • How will you prepare and strengthen your faith in the coming year?
  • How is next year going to be different for your calendar? Bank account? Time?