Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 11 March 2022:
Exodus 18:7-12 – Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done…. And Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the LORD had done…. And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God.
When godly people get together, they naturally talk about what God has done and is doing because it is what they are most excited about. Godly people love to be with other godly people who they can truly share life with, joyful relationships full of praise and worship for God. When God’s people get together for fellowship, worship should automatically breakout.
Exodus 18:20 – “You shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do.”
What did God expect the national leader to do? No one is exempt from the commands of God, regardless what they choose to believe. There is one God, and He is sovereign over all. This is part of the truth God has called us to proclaim.
Exodus 18:21 – “Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.”
The organizational concept of “span of control” is taught in the Bible, which in the Marine Corps would look like forces, brigades, divisions, regiments, battalions, companies, platoons, squads, and fire teams. The fundamental concept is that leaders should focus their energies on developing (training, teaching, coaching, mentoring, and supporting) three to twelve other leaders, encouraging them to do the same. This is also the “Master Plan for Evangelism.” Consider the requirements and responsibilities to be a squad leader in ‘God’s army.’ Are you a squad leader? What is the condition of your troops? Are you building leaders in Jesus who, in turn, can make squad leaders? Write down the names of your squad and evaluate how you are doing with them. Write down the names of their respective squads. How are they doing with them?
Acts 22:3 – “…being zealous for God…”
Bible knowledge is misapplied and dangerous without the love of Christ compelling you, both in your understanding and in your execution. This is why Paul said that if you have all the power in the world but don’t have love, you have nothing. This is why Proverbs tells you, “Like a thorn that goes up into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” (Proverbs 26:9)
Acts 22:4-7 — “I persecuted this Way to the death… I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’”
Paul’s testimony started with a confession of his sinfulness and total depravity. Paul’s message was clear, “I was a worthless sinner saved by God through Jesus Christ, not because of anything that I had done or because of who I had become, but merely because of God’s mercy and grace.” Isn’t that our message too? But yet we still have a tendency to act prideful in our own ‘righteousness,’ wanting others to think highly of us. We hide our sins from others because we don’t want others to see who we really are. Not Paul, he wanted everyone to know exactly how unworthy he was so that the grace of God and the glory of Jesus Christ could be magnified before men, rather than Paul. Paul wanted all attention, honor, glory, and praise to go to Jesus, and he wanted all other sinners like him to know that it is faith in Jesus Christ that saves, not good works done on earth. Do you want people to see goodness in you or greatness in God?
Acts 22:7 — ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
When someone persecutes a Christian, they are really persecuting Jesus. Be very careful how you treat others, understanding that God takes it personally.
Acts 22:8 — ‘Who are you, Lord?’
God’s work left no choice for Paul but to believe in Jesus. Jesus reveals Himself to whomever He pleases for His purposes. God’s chosen people are often the most unlikely candidates in our eyes. Paul (Saul) was not seeking Jesus when called but, rather was at war with Him. This persecutor of Christians would have been difficult to receive in a congregation after his conversion. Is there someone you could not embrace if they stepped inside your church this Sunday? (More on this point below)
Acts 22:10 — What shall I do, Lord?’
When Jesus is really revealed to you, you are ready to serve Him, your old priorities are no longer priorities at all.
Acts 22:10 – “Go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’”
God expects you to be obedient one step at a time without being told what happens next. Our obedience is not conditional upon the outcome. When God says step, we step, without knowing why. Asking God for a sign or revelation of the future is usually an indicator of a lack of faith and trust in Him. It can be a form of disrespectful disobedience — “Lord, if you really want me to do what you have said, prove it.”
Acts 22:13 — ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’
God’s plan involves us working with other brothers in our spiritual development. God forces us into relationships because relationship is where we learn how to love.
Acts 22:15 – “For you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard.”
A witness testifies to what he has seen and heard personally, not second-hand. Tell people your personal story about Jesus Christ.
Acts 22:19, 20 — “And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’”
Again, Paul did not choose God, God chose Paul while he was actively persecuting the Body of Christ – “And [Ananias] said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth (Acts 22:14).” Perhaps no one was more surprised by this appointment than Paul himself – “And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him (Acts 22:19, 20).’” Paul learned that “one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:7-9).”
God forgave and appointed Paul, this most unlikely servant; now Paul had to forgive himself and accept his appointment; those he had previously sinned against had to forgive Paul and accept his appointment too. Can you imagine if you were Stephen’s brother? How would you have acted if Paul came to preach in your church? The Bible says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 2:5:18).” To resist forgiveness (both in the giving and the receiving) is to deny our ministry. Paul had to accept grace which is hard to do – “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).” Paul trust God and changed the world for God’s glory (joyfully surrendering his life in the process). What about you? Will you accept grace and walk in grace? Will you step out in faith to commit your life to the Lord? “And now why do you wait…? Go, for I will send you…. (Acts 22:16, 21)”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 March 22: “For you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15) Again, a witness testifies to what they have seen and heard personally, not second-hand. Today, tell people your personal story about Jesus Christ, how He saved you, and what He has done in your life.