Acts 9:15-16…But the LORD said unto him, Go thy way for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
Today’s scripture was a message to Ananias a disciple of the Lord in Damascus,whom the Lord appeared to in a vision to go to Saul of Tarsus to go and lay his hand upon him so that he can receive his sight. Ananias told the Lord that Saul had committed so much evil in Jerusalem and even here he was on a mission to bind those that call on thy name. The Lord told him that Paul was a chosen vessel to bear His name among the Gentiles, and kings,and the children of Israel. This is one of the ways of the LORD that confirms that every one of us are vessels in His hand. He created every one and every thing for his purpose. The first time that Saul was introduced was that he was involved in the stoning to death of Deacon Stephen in Acts 8:1- that reads “And Saul was consenting unto his death (Stephen’s Acts 7:59-60), And at that time there was so much persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad through the regions of Judaea, and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentations over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. This was the situation of the early church and Saul the persecutor caused so much uproar in Jerusalem which made the Christians to scatter abroad for safety and to continue to testify that Jesus is Lord.
And as Saul was on his way to Damascus, “suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou Lord? And the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks? And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what will thou have me to do? The Lord told him to arise and go to the city and there he would be told what he must do. The people with him were speechless,hearing a voice but seeing no one. Saul arose but could see no one and they led him by hand to Damascus. He was there three days without sight, neither did he eat nor drink. The Lord appeared to Ananias in a vision and told him to go to where Saul was and lay his hand on him so that he can recover his sight.
Paul was a Pharisee who had trained under an old testament leader called Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). He was well versed in the scriptures but did not have proper understanding about the coming of the Messiah that was written in the Law and the Prophets. So passionately he was killing those that believed on the name of Jesus. He did all these ignorantly, until Jesus revealed to him that he too was a chosen vessel to bear his Name.The Name that he persecuted was the same Name that he defended from the time of his conversion until his death. As our Lord revealed to him, he too suffered great persecution for Jesus’s sake.
What are the lessons to learn from the story of Paul? The first that makes me to tremble at the majesty of God is that from the foundation of the world he had chosen some vessels to be used for different purposes. Some vessels he would bring to the scene at a young age (like Samuel), some at a middle age (teenagers..Joseph, Jeremiah, David, Daniel) and some at old age like Moses (he was 80 years). These examples and so many other ones (uncountable) that he had used were from different backgrounds and professions. He prepared each vessel for the assignment and manifested himself in them mightily. Every vessel before the call might not know what lies ahead of them. Some might even have committed so much atrocities, and yet the call of God upon their life comes at God’s appointed time, erasing all the past mistakes and filling them up with himself. God is God of wonder, and unquestionable in all His doings. This is to say that there might be some murderers that are still out there and are yet “chosen vessels” of God. So when Jesus was preaching to the multitude in Matthew 5:44: he told them “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you,” it makes sense to me now, because you may never know that such person might be a chosen vessel of the Lord like Saul that became Paul.
The second lesson is the fact that if the victim , those that were killed, happened to have committed offence that could land them in hell fire, they will receive their judgment while their killers would receive forgiveness and be used by God. This is the reason why each of us should live a blameless life, ask for forgiveness of your sins everyday you have that chance, live and do not hold grudge or malice against anyone. Live as if that day is the last. Thirdly, the story shows that Ananias was confused about what God was doing to Saul of Tarsus. How can he use such a person that had committed so much havoc in the church? This is human reasoning, and God’s ways are not our ways. Therefore we have to be careful the way we look at people and pass judgment on them. What we should be doing is to follow the advice in Matthew 5:44 that says “Love them and pray for them.” It is not easy but with God’s help we can do it, and that is what makes us the children of God who rains on the just and the unjust. It is well with us in Jesus name.
Prayer… Lord give me the heart to love like you do and help me to overlook and forgive all the wrongs that anybody might have done against me. Also I am not perfect either, forgive me all my sins and help me to run away from sin in Jesus name.