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The Scriptorium

Obedient to the Vision

So must we all be. Acts 24-26

The Trials of Paul (14)

Pray Psalm 138.1-3.

I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.
I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
And made me bold with strength in my soul.

Sing Psalm 138.1-3.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
I will give You thanks and praise You, God of gods, with all my heart.
I will bow before Your temple, grateful praise to You impart.
For Your Name and for Your glory, You have magnified Your Word!

Review Acts 24-26; meditate on Acts 26.19, 20.

Preparation
1. What “vision” had Paul received?

2. How did he respond to it?

Meditation
We have compressed our reading over these past few installments to see Paul in action under pressure over a two-year period. He has demonstrated many desirable attributes including patience, civility, courage, consistency, and boldness in his witness for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He carefully recounted the vision of Christ he experienced on the Damascus Road, and he insisted that all his actions from that day forward were in line with what Christ called him to do. “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,” he explained, thus declaring his loyalty to Christ above the authority of the Jews and the courts of the Roman empire.

We do not require a vision from Jesus to know what He has called us to do. It’s clear from His Word, and He wants us to be immersed in His Word, not hanging around waiting for some flash from the skies before we get busy in our calling. Jesus has called us to seek His Kingdom and glory in everything we do and think (Matt. 6.33; 1 Thess. 2.12; 1 Cor. 10.31; 2 Cor. 10.3-5). He has sent us into the “as-you-are-goings” of our life to make the most of the time of our lives by being His witnesses and making disciples (Eph. 5.15-17; Acts 1.8; Matt. 28.18-20). He commands us to be sanctified by the Word of God (Jn. 17.17), to grow in knowledge of Him and His grace (2 Pet. 3.18), to shine by our good works and true words like a city on a hill (Matt. 5.13-16), and to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us to anyone who asks (1 Pet. 3.15). And over and above all, Jesus instructs us to love God with all our soul and strength and our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22.34-40).

Let us get that firmly fixed in our minds, each facet of it. Let it be like a radiant garment of glory to be draped in day by day. Let Christ’s calling be so clear and compelling that it becomes a vision beckoning us on to fill our Personal Mission Field with His Presence, promise, and power. Let us begin our day reviewing and preparing to seek this heavenly vision and calling (Heb. 3.1), and let us retire at night thanking God for all He has accomplished in and through us, so that, whatever may have been our trials or challenges, we may say back to him every night, “I have not been disobedient to the heavenly vision.”

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Christmas of 2021 saw the arrival of two new identical throw pillows to our family, one for our daughter Ashley and the other for us. Not too long after their purchase, much to Ashley’s horror and chagrin, she noted that an apostrophe was misplaced on her pillow. Out came her sewing basket, and the repairs were made. She is, after all, the grammar sheriff of our family, so of course it had to be tended to. Next, our pillow. Over she came with needle and thread, and soon ours was repaired as well.

In some respects, Paul was like these pillows. As Saul, he was a person. He was religious. He was zealous. But he had an outsized “misplaced apostrophe” of hatred. And out came Jesus’ sewing basket and dramatic repairs were made. At last Paul was ready for service.

The original word from Jesus to all His disciples was this: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1.8).

But Paul needed extra tending. He needed another word, which was this: “But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you” (Acts 26.16). And Paul understood that message to mean that he should: “…declare first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles…” (Acts 26.20).

The truth is, all of us at one time had a huge, “misplaced apostrophe”. Paul was good to remind us of this: “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Rom. 3.23) And all of us needed the workmanship of our loving Savior to repair the mistake. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6.23).

The message given for the repaired Paul to proclaim is the very same message that we proclaim: “…repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26.20). “LORD, I hope for Your salvation, and I do Your commandments” (Ps. 119.166). “For we are His workmanship [repaired and restored], created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2.10).

Are there people in your Personal Mission Field who need a little repair? Are you ready with your needle and thread to help mend their apostrophes? We can only do this properly when “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5.5).

But in His power, we can go forward with Paul, repaired and restored for obedience to this vision.

For reflection

1. How does God work to bring repentance into our lives? How have you experienced this?

2. Are you aware of any “misplaced apostrophes” in your life? What should you do when you are?

3. What is the most important lesson you’ve gained from watching Paul endure these trials?

Therefore, he teaches us by his example that we must obey God more than people and that we must make no delay or put off, as soon as we are certain what his will is. Whoever follows this rule frees himself from great anxiety and care. Rudolph Gwalther (1519-1586), Homily 164, Acts 26:19-23.10

Pray Psalm 138.4-8.

Pray that God will give you words today to encourage other disciples and bear witness to the lost. Trust in Him to revive and renew you and to “perfect” that which concerns you in all your ways.

Sing Psalm 138.4-8.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
On the day I called You answered, made me bold within my soul.
When I walk in troubled places, You revive and make me whole.
For Your hand will gently shield me, and my fearsome foes control.

All the kings of earth will praise You when Your words of truth they hear.
Of Your ways, of Your great glory gladly they will loudly cheer.
For the proud shall not approach You, yet You hold the lowly dear.

Your Right Hand will save and keep me; all I need You will supply.
For Your love is everlasting reaching from beyond the sky.
You will not forsake or leave me; You will save me when I cry.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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