Convinced of the Holy Spirit
In Acts 21, we read how Paul was convinced of the Holy Spirit that he should go to Jerusalem, even knowing that he may be imprisoned there or even die there for the name of the Lord Jesus. And Paul was arrested there, and he was bound with chains, and the crowds were yelling, “Away with him!”
Paul asked to say something, and he was given permission to speak (Acts 22). So, he shared his testimony of how he was a Jew, and how he had persecuted those who were followers of Jesus (of “The Way”) to the death, and how one day he was on his way to Damascus to punish more Christians.
“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
“Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus” (Acts 22:6-11 ESV).
Paul then went on to tell them about a man named Ananias who had prayed for Paul to receive his sight and then who told him that God had appointed him to know his will and that he was to be a witness for him to everyone of what he had seen and heard (cf. Acts 26:16-18).
He then told how the Lord had led him to leave the city because the people would not accept Paul’s testimony about Jesus. In fact, he told them how the Lord Jesus had said to him, “Go, for I will send you to the Gentiles” (v. 21).
The people listened to Paul up to this point, but as soon as he said that the Lord was sending him to the Gentiles, then they began to shout, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live” (v. 22).
Two days later, in the night, the Lord stood by Paul and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome” (Acts 23:11).
A Plot to Kill Paul
In the morning of the next day the Jews made a plot to kill Paul. So Paul was secretly sent to Felix the governor. And after several more days Paul stood before the governor and he was given permission to speak. And Paul gave his defense against the charges brought against him.
Felix listened to Paul on and off for the next two years while Paul was kept in prison but was given some liberties. And then Governor Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
More days passed and then Paul was brought before Festus. Paul then gave his defense to him. Festus encouraged him to go to Jerusalem to be tried there, but Paul appealed to Caesar. So, Festus arranged for Paul to be sent to Caesar.
More days passed and now King Agrippa arrived at Caesarea where Paul was being kept in prison. So, Festus presented Paul’s case to the king, and then the king expressed interest in hearing Paul himself.
So, the next day Paul was brought before the King, and the king gave Paul permission to speak. So, once again Paul shared his testimony of his encounter with Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus. Only in this account he expounded more on the specific calling Jesus had given to him:
“But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me” (Acts 26:16-21).
Festus then accused Paul of being out of his mind, and Paul answered back that he was not out of his mind but that he was speaking true and rational words. Paul then said to King Agrippa:
“King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains” (Acts 26:27-29).
And What About Us?
We may not all experience the same as what Paul did or be called of God in all the same ways in which Jesus called Paul, but we who believe in Jesus are all servants of the Lord, and we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth and those who proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.
We are to be dead to sin and to self, and Jesus is to be our Lord and master, and we are to do his bidding. We are to follow him wherever he leads us, too, even if it means being persecuted for our faith and for our testimonies for Jesus Christ, and even if it means being falsely accused and falsely imprisoned, and even if we are called “crazy,” too.
We are to be sharing the truth of the gospel with others so that they can come to know Jesus, too, even to those who profess the name of Jesus but who are not believing the true gospel, but who are following a half-truth (lie) gospel created in the minds of human beings in their deceitful scheming.
And if we are following the Lord Jesus with our lives, and we are being persecuted unjustly, we are to take courage. Our Lord is with us. He will never leave us or forsake us. And he will work all things together for good for us who love (obey) him and who have been called according to his purpose.
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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