My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):
Is it ever unclear to you what God would have you do or where God would have you go? So often I have found myself at a crossroads, not sure whether to go left, right, or stay the course. Today in our reading we find Paul in that exact same place — a place of indecision, wonder, and in need of direction.
After Paul’s conversion and baptism in Damascus, he returns to Jerusalem and waits three years for instruction from God. One day, while praying in the temple, Paul falls into a deep trance and has a vision of the Lord telling him to leave Jerusalem quickly. He replies to the Lord that he feels his ministry will be much more effective here in Jerusalem. Paul was once so devout and passionate, that surely those who knew him before would be just that much more convinced to convert to Christianity and follow Jesus. God knew better! The Jews would view Paul as a traitor — rendering his ministry less than fruitful.
The first lesson Paul teaches us today is that prayer and patient listening are the only ways to truly hear from God. It is easy and tempting to chart our own path. However, if we are dedicated to serving God and being an instrument for God we must ask God for guidance. Sometimes the answers won’t come immediately, and that’s fine. Paul waited three years to hear from God! However, during that time we read today that Paul stayed in constant prayer!
Our second lesson today is that our plans may not be the same as God’s plans. Paul wanted to stay and God said go! As men and women born of flesh, we are often challenged by the idea of doing what we want as opposed to doing what God wants. It is safe within our comfortable spaces and secure environments. But what would happen if we would petition God for direction, patiently wait for instruction, and most importantly, move on those instructions? Ask God today; what am I holding on to that you want me to move away from?
Finally, we can rest assured that when God sends us, the Spirit of the Lord is sure to go along. God calls all of us to Kingdom building work and is faithful to direct our path for this and all things. However, we must know that God knows better for us, and for the Kingdom, than we do and we must defer ourselves to God’s guidance. If Christ sends any one, God’s Spirit shall go along.
Thought for the day: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to God’s purpose. Romans 8:28
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.