Anglican Morning Devotion for 1 December 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And 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. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” (Acts 9:1-6; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
How many believe they have heard the voice of the Lord call them to a ministry but desire to know what benefits are provided first? That is not evidence of a calling in Christ. The example of Paul (Saul) is a perfect example of the genuine call to service of the Lord. There are several aspects of the calling that should be understood:
- Paul was in no wise worthy of the Lord in his present state of mind. In fact, Paul was persecuting the Church of Christ and its followers with threats and even slaughter. He had overseen the stoning most recently of Stephen – the first Deacon of the Church. His resumé would in no way qualify Paul to be a servant of the Lord in the eyes of any Church board; however, whom the Lord calls to service, He will make able to perform it. The Lord called Paul, not because of WHO he was at present, but by what he would become under the Lordship of Christ.
- The calling of Paul was stark and profound. Perhaps the greater the terrible works of a man to be called, the more profound must be the calling. We have many such examples in the history of the Church such as the culprit, John Newton, who became a great minister and hymn writer in England after a life of degradation; or of Charles Spurgeon who was led to the Lord on a stormy night by an illiterate old deacon who pointed a bony finger a Spurgeon and proclaimed – “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but look and live!” When our hearts have already been cultivated by the Gospel in our youth, perhaps such a profound call is not deemed necessary by the Lord but, believe me, it will be issued with such authority and emphasis that we shall have no choice but to submit at last.
- Paul was struck by LIGHT. He was stopped in his tracks and knocked to the ground. At that very moment his wicked intentions were doused by the Water of Life. His plans, his aims and purposes, ceased at that very moment. Though He knew not what the Lord would demand next, he was now a ready student to learn. Jesus queried Paul as to why his designs against Him were evil? We see in this that any attack against a Godly church and people is equivalent to an attack against the person of Christ.
- Paul was immediately convicted by this face-to-face meeting with the Lord. He is the only Apostle to be called by the ascended Lord. It was the Lord’s very question that convicted Paul. In life many questions arise. Those very questions are often used of the Lord to draw us to His bosom. Our questions in life are too often ‘WHY?’ and not ‘WHAT’ would you have me to do?
- Paul’s calling was not immediately specific. Though Paul knew the Lord had called unto him for a purpose, at the moment of the calling, the purpose was less important than blind obedience – and his obedience would have to be blind since Paul was struck with blindness by the light and scales over his eyes.
- The calling of Paul was a direct calling to him and none around him. Each of us, as believers, are gifted with a calling, but that calling is directed to us alone. We cannot act on another’s calling.
- Finally, Paul’s calling in the ministry required further preparation. “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” When we are called by God, He may delay our knowing the details of the calling until we are prepared to hear and understand them. God had a plan for Paul’s life long before Paul had any knowledge of his calling. Instead of seeking believers to persecute, Paul had now become a target for persecution by his former Jewish perpetrators of persecution.
Much changed in Paul’s life once He knew his calling in Christ. Were it not for merely physical appearance alone, his former associates would not have recognized him. Like Paul, we should all be new creatures in Christ once our election is sure.