In His Will—Chosen and Changed
“And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? Acts 9:6a (KJV)
Saul thought he was the cream of God’s crop. The name Saul even means desired. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews and considered himself faultless in his legalistic righteousness (Philippians 3:5-6) He was taught by the best and was zealous for God (Acts 22:3). But in his blind zeal, he thought he was serving God as he persecuted the church breathing out murder and threats against the Lord’s disciples and looking for opportunities to imprison them (Acts 9:1). Strong’s dictionary said that murder and threats were the source from where Saul drew his breath. It was in that violent, hate-filled, prideful condition that Jesus met him, not to be condemned, but to be saved and have his heart and vision changed; a change that would have seemed humanly impossible. This passage should encourage Christians to never give up hope and never stop praying for those that seem far from Jesus, or are even aggressively oppositional. All it takes is one divine meeting with Jesus to change their coarse, purpose and eternal destiny. Who are the people in our lives that we think are beyond changing? How will we help them meet Jesus?
Saul trembled and fell to the ground when He met with the light and truth of Jesus. How terrifying it must have been to understand that his life was built on lies and to realize who he was persecuting, that he had killed Jesus over and over each time he killed a believer in whom Jesus lived. Truth set Saul free from the path of destruction and freed him to respond to the purpose Jesus chose him for, to carry the His name before the Gentiles, their kings and the people of Israel (Acts 9:15). Jesus didn’t say this man “will be” my chosen instrument, He said this man “is” my chosen instrument, chosen even while he was still persecuting Jesus and thought his purpose was to destroy the church. Nothing Saul had done changed the plans Jesus had prepared for him in advance (Ephesians 2:10). And there’s nothing we have done that will change His plans for us. Thankfully, our resumes from the employer of darkness are removed as far as the East is from the West. Jesus’ plans for us are based on His resume and not determined by either our good or bad works (Ephesians 2:9). Jesus temporarily blinded Saul to the world to give him great spiritual vision. So how might taking our eyes off worldly things and spending time in the presence of Jesus help us to see more clearly the spiritual work He has chosen for us to do?
In this Acts 9 passage, Ananias and the Jerusalem disciples were fearful and suspicious of Saul because of his reputation. They still saw him as their persecutor because Jesus needed to align their vision with His. Jesus says we are either with Him or against Him (Matthew 12:30), so if we don’t see others through His eyes, are we then seeing them through Satan’s? Who are we doubting or mistrusting because of their past? We so often judge others by their past when maybe God’s saying forget the past because He wants to do something new (Isaiah 43:18-19). Who are we overlooking or considering their potential for ministry or service based on what they’ve done in the past or their current gifts? God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. So where might we be hindering the path of someone God has chosen and changed because our vision isn’t aligned with His? And how much time do we spend in prayer asking Him to allow us to see others as He does?
Prayer: Dear Father full of grace and mercy. Thank you that you chose us to be your children, and you chose us to do your work. Thank you that no one is beyond your reach and that everyone who believes in you is changed and has a new, good and eternal purpose. Thank you for the example of Saul that shows us no matter how opposed to you we were or how sinful, if we are your chosen, your plans for us don’t change and you will not let us go. Give us your clear vision for ourselves, our brothers and sisters in Christ and our place in the body of Christ. Let us not ignore, overlook or hinder anyone you are calling to serve you. Rather give us wisdom and empowering to encourage each other in your eternal work. In the name of Jesus, the one who chooses and changes us. Amen!