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Posts Tagged ‘Saul’

There are two insights here: one, the implication here is that mediums and such have power otherwise, it wouldn’t matter and two, looking for direction from them is a type of spiritual adultery.

Leviticus 19:31
‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.

I have always held a healthy respect for people who are gifted with other-worldly capabilities and communications. Of course, there are charlatans as well, but I do believe there are legitimate seers and mediums. To throw the baby out with the bathwater and say they don’t exist is foolish. There is a spirit realm and it’s not just populated with angels and cupids. There are forces outside our 3-D world and they are referenced in the Bible a great deal [See Ephesians 6:12].

The point is that we are discouraged from using these people to communicate with that world. I don’t know why, really. This is a trust issue. I think of it as the same warnings that parents give to children, to stay away from the burners of the stove. It’s a force we may not understand fully and it’s better to stay away.

I was thinking that part of the problem might be the limitations of the message. Perhaps a medium would give direction based on circumstances in that moment and the listener takes it to heart and makes decisions and plans based on that advice. We may move in this one direction based on the revelations of a spiritist, but then miss out on a more creative plan that God may have.

It’s a matter of settling in and trusting the Holy Spirit to direct our lives. That is rarely on our time schedule. And so often, we become discouraged or impatient (like Saul and the witch of Endor – see I Samuel 28) and look for the easy answers, the quick result.

Lastly, is the issue of spiritual adultery. God promises to take care of us. It’s a covenant relationship just like marriage. If we seek direction from other sources, we are showing our distrust and we are breaking our vow to remain faithful to the One God.

I’m not so rigid to believe that reading books about fantasy or fairy tales are dangerous. I think that’s going overboard. I also don’t believe lighthearted play with a ouija board or tarot cards is going to mar a person for life. The danger is in the authority we give to these people and practices. As soon as we seriously engage in them, we are, indeed, playing with fire.

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Acts 9:26
When he came to Jerusalem, he [Saul] tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.

Reputation is a tricky phenomenon. A good, strong reputation can be destroyed quickly while a bad reputation is almost impossible to reverse. Once a good reputation is ruined, it is even more difficult to recover from it.

Ten years ago, I remember an employee review where my supervisor indicated that I needed to be more tactful with co-workers and colleagues. I knew this was an important concern and although it was hard to accept, I took the criticism seriously and worked at changing that behavior. Unfortunately, despite all of my efforts, the person who gave me this criticism continues to refer to this trait of mine as a “given” to this day. In that person’s eyes, I am abrupt and tactless and nothing I do changes her mind about me.

My teen daughter suffered a far worse judgment when a boy began passing around lies about her in school. These misrepresentations were repeated over and over again and although she has not dated the young man for over three years, the “reputation” has persisted.

I’m sure we can all tell a story or two of how our action or inaction has caused a flurry of stories which built into a controversial or suspect reputation.

When I accepted the “way of Jesus” in my late twenties, everyone who knew me was shocked. My reputation precluded my being a candidate for becoming a follower of Jesus. Many people did not think it was authentic. Even my family accused me of fad-following.

Saul has been known as a persecutor of believers. He had disciples arrested, tortured, and eventually killed by the authorities. His first reputation was a huge hindrance to sharing his new-found faith after his conversation experience.

But Saul soldiered on. He eventually discovered his own niche in the story of Jesus. And slowly, over many years, his reputation changed.

Instead of trying to change his reputation through words, he let his actions speak for themselves. He accepted his past and even included it into his teaching. He became an example of the transforming power that the Messiah can have on a life.

It’s impossible to “make” someone trust you. Trust is built over time and consistency of actions.

I cannot change another person’s view of me. I can be authentic and steadfast. And I can trust the faithfulness of God to change the opinions of others over time.

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Acts 9:15
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man [Saul of Tarsus] is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”

Usually, the story of Ananias is used to illustrate the unwilling messenger who is obedient ultimately and delivers the message of God. Courageous Ananias spurns reason and goes to the appointed house to lay hands on the most notorious anti-Christ of the time, Saul of Tarsus. I believe he went with fear and trembling, but he went with faith.

One thing, however, that Ananias does not really do: he doesn’t tell Saul the whole story. Oh yes, Ananias lays hands on Saul who then receives his sight. And this laying on of hands brings the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But Ananias does not drop the bomb that Saul (eventually changed to Paul) would be the one to carry the name of Jesus to the Gentiles. This would have been a huge deal–a shock!

At this point in the story, the Gentiles were not anywhere in the equation. Ananias was really the first to hear and record this fact: the Son of God manifested for everyone, not just the Jews.

That is no less true today.

The way of Christ is not a mandate but an opportunity. It’s far-fetched and far-reaching. It’s not about race, nationality, or religion. God is sovereign and His Son no less so.

Oh, if we could just walk the essence of His message. Truly, the lion and the lamb could live together.

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…if he [Saul] found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

Saul started out as a great persecutor of the followers of Jesus. He considered them a threat to the traditions and laws of Israel. They were undermining the faith. How were they doing this? How would he recognize these disciples?

Back then, what did a Christian follower look like? How did a Christian follower behave? How would Saul have identified those followers in his time?

The question is no different today. Am I on the Way? For years, it’s been a pop question: “Is there enough evidence to convict you as a Christian?” I think there’s even a song that asks the question. Funny, after 2000 years, we’re still asking who’s on the way.

Certainly, it would not have been an Ichthus symbol on a bumper or Christian music blaring from a car radio or a creche in the front yard. It would not have been a well-worn bible or marching on Washington for some worthy cause or wearing a cross or crucifix.

By the time Saul was on his rampage, the believers had gone underground. They were meeting together in secret. This was one of the foremost clues: they met together often. They chose to be together because of what they had in common. They broke bread together and everyone shared in what was available. None went hungry.

What else did they do when they met together? They shared stories about Jesus. They sang. They worshiped. They waited. They prayed. They encouraged one another. It was a simple life.

Were people healed? Were there miracles? We don’t really know. But the implication is that those on the way, that is living as Jesus lived, were doing the same things He did.

In the end, Saul probably found out about followers because of a snitch. He was told where they would be meeting together. They would be collected and arrested as a group, not so much as individuals.

To be on the way is to be together with others on the same path. I have struggled with this concept my entire Christian life. Going to “church” on Sunday morning isn’t the same thing. That has become a “passive” experience. There is no sense of journey at all. It’s the small group, the cell, that can operate with true mutuality. It’s the place where we can be authentic, transparent, and united on the way. It’s where we can struggle together over the questions of faith, trust, and disappointment.

If I am not in fellowship with a group on the Way, then, no, there is very little evidence that I am a follower of Christ. An isolated follower will elude detection for a long, long time. And so I have done.

God forgive me.

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