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Acts 22

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 5, 2013


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Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 4400 words

On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began to grow.

By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution. Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. One of the main men behind the persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed for the city of Damascus to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his horse by a bright light and he met Jesus. Saul is more well known by his Roman name, Paul.

By chapter 10, the gospel began to reach even the Gentiles, starting with a Roman Centurion named Cornelius.

In chapter 13, we began a new section of Acts as we began to focus on the ministry of Paul.

Play Missionary Journeys map clip

Paul’s first missionary journey took him from Antioch of Syria, through the area of Galatia.

Paul’s second missionary journey took him past Galatia, into Greece, then back through Jerusalem and on to Antioch.

We are now on Paul’s third missionary journey, very similar to the second, except he’s now in Jerusalem.

While Paul was in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, a riot breaks out in the Temple, and the Jews try to seize Paul and put him to death.

The issue that is causing the riot has to do with the Gentiles.

Some of the Jewish Christians had heard rumors that Paul had been teaching the Jews who lived around the world that they no longer needed to keep the Law of Moses, that they could live like Gentiles.

He had not.
Paul taught what the Jewish believing church in Jerusalem taught – that salvation comes through believing in God’s grace. This is true for Jew and Gentile.
Jews don’t have to stop being Jews, but their salvation was never based on how well they kept the Law of Moses.

Some of the unbelieving Jews thought that Paul had even brought a Gentile into the Temple because they had seen him walking around town with a Gentile.

He had not.

The truth was that Paul was in the Temple completing a very Jewish ceremony, the Nazirite vow. Apparently Paul had taken the vow himself, and he was also paying the fees involved for four other Jewish believers.

The Romans step in and take Paul away from the crowd to find out what he has done to get the Jews upset.

Just before entering the Antonio Fortress, Paul asks permission to address the crowd.

22:1-22 Paul speaks to the mob

:1 “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.”

:1 defenseapologia – verbal defense, speech in defense; a reasoned statement or argument

:1 Brothers and fathers – interesting phrase. This is the same phrase that Paul would have heard Stephen use when he gave his defense before the Sanhedrin before he was stoned to death (Acts 7:2).

There is a hint of respect here from Paul to the mob.


Reacting with respect

We don’t always respond too nicely when we’re in a hostile situation.
A small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand in a trial-a grandmotherly, elderly woman. He approached her and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why, yes, I do know you Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy. And frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a rising big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.” The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Williams, do you know the defense attorney?” She again replied, “Why, yes I do. I’ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. I used to baby-sit him for his parents. And he, too, has been a real disappointment to me. He’s lazy, bigoted, he has a drinking problem. The man can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the shoddiest in the entire state. Yes, I know him.” At this point, the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both counselors to the bench. In a very quiet voice, he said with menace, “If either of you asks her if she knows me, you’ll be jailed for contempt!
Paul speaks respectfully using words of courtesy and dignity. Peter writes,
(1 Pe 3:9 NKJV) not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
Paul has been mishandled and slandered. Yet he has the presence of mind to use terms of respect. He doesn’t call them “you bunch of bums!”
When you are in a hostile situation, you have a choice as to what kinds of words you are going to use.
(Pr 15:1 NKJV) A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

It’s like you having two pockets in your pants to reach into for the situation. Are you going to reach into the pocket with the gun or the pocket with the healing salve?

:2 And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said:

:2 in the Hebrew language

More specifically, he is speaking in Aramaic, a language related to Hebrew.

Paul had been speaking to the Romans in Greek (Acts 21:37)

(Ac 21:37 NKJV) Then as Paul was about to be led into the barracks, he said to the commander, “May I speak to you?” He replied, “Can you speak Greek?
That’s the language that the Roman officers would understand.

Now Paul speaks to the Jewish crowd in Aramaic.

The Romans won’t understand what Paul is saying, but the people will pay attention because he’s speaking in their language.
The crowd would probably understand Greek, but Paul speaks in their native tongue so they will listen to his defense with a more sympathetic ear.


Speak in their language

The longer we are believers, the less we talk in a language that non-Christians can understand.
Play Christianese video clip
Sometimes it’s not the language as much as the way you say it.
Paul wrote,
(Eph 4:29 NLT) Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

:3 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.

:3 I am indeed a Jew

Most of the people in the crowd do not know who Paul is. Most of them don’t know why they are rioting.

Paul tells them that he is one of them.

:3 born in Tarsus of Cilicia

Tarsus is to the north, in the area where Paul planted some of those churches of Galatia.

:3 in this city … Gamaliel

Even though Paul was born in Tarsus, he was raised in Jerusalem.

He was trained by the great rabbi Gamaliel.


Gamaliel was one of the greatest Jewish religious scholars of all time.
He was the grandson of the great Jewish scholar, Hillel, and he followed the liberal leadings of Hillel in his teaching.
In fact, prior to the death of Gamaliel, when a teacher taught, he sat, and his students stood, but when Gamaliel died, they said, “the glory of the law ceased, and purity and Pharisaism died”, and from that time, students no longer stood while being taught the law.
Gamaliel was the one who was concerned that the Sanhedrin might be guilty of fighting against God if they persecuted the church too much (Acts 5:39)
The point is that Paul has some pretty impressive credentials, having been a student of Gamaliel’s.

:3 the strictness of our fathers’ law

Paul had been a Pharisee.

He was a man raised on keeping the Law of Moses.

:4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,

:5 as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.

:4 this Way

This was one of the early labels used to describe Christians.

Jesus used some of the language Himself:

(Mt 7:14 NKJV) Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
(Jn 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

The phrase was first used in the book of Acts to describe Paul’s persecution of the church:

(Ac 9:2 NKJV) and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

When Paul began to have trouble in the city of Ephesus …

(Ac 19:9 NKJV) But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

:4 persecuted this Way to the death

Paul says this showed what kind of “zeal” he had (vs. 3).

At one point in his life he had made it his mission to wipe out the followers of Jesus (“this Way”)

Paul would write the Philippian about his “Jewish” credentials:

(Php 3:5–6 NKJV) —5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Paul is trying to show that he was so immersed in this militant orthodox Judaism that it would not have been an easy thing for him to have become a Christian.

:6 “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.

:7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’

:8 So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’

:8 I am Jesus of Nazareth

Paul is describing how he met Jesus. We’ve already seen this back in Acts 9.

:9 “And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.

:9 saw the light … did not hear

hearakouo – to hear; to understand, perceive the sense of what is said

Earlier, Luke had recorded:

(Ac 9:7 NKJV) And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.

(Ac 22:9 NLT) The people with me saw the light but didn’t understand the voice speaking to me.

Paul’s traveling companions also saw the light and heard a noise (Acts 9:7), but they didn’t understand what was being said to Paul.

:10 So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’

:10 Arise and go into Damascus


One step at a time

Paul has an audience with the King of Kings. Jesus is going to give Paul some directions for his life, but all Jesus says is to go to Damascus where he will get the next set of instructions.
Paul will end up with one of the most amazing ministries the world has seen. But it all started with obeying the simple instructions of going to Damascus.
When Phillip was in the middle of a huge revival in Samaria, the Spirit told him to go down to the road to Gaza.
Phillip would end up meeting an Ethiopian eunuch and leading him to the Lord. But he didn’t know that when he first got his instructions.
Abraham was living in the land of Ur when God told him to go.
(Heb 11:8 NKJV) By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Abraham is considered the “father of faith”.

The Jews are in the land of Israel because of Abraham.

It all started with him obeying the simple command to “go”.

God didn’t even tell Abraham where he was going to go (at first), but to just “go”.

The same goes for our lives as well.
We might want to know what kind of job we’re supposed to have, or who we’re supposed to marry.
What’s important is that you obey what you DO know.
The rest will follow.
There may be times when we are wondering what God wants for our lives. And then one day God points His finger at a thing, a place, a job, and He says, “go”.
We want all the details. We want to know how it’s all going to turn out. God simply wants us to obey.
What if I’ve heard God wrong? What if I make a mistake?
Then you learn from your mistakes.

Paul started off for Damascus thinking he was going to please God by imprisoning Christians. God did a fine job correcting Paul.

It is better that God knows that we are available and willing than that we are closed minded and reluctant.

:10 appointedtasso – to put in order; to appoint, ordain, order

The verb is in the “perfect” tense – something done in the past but the results continue on to the present.

You could say that God had plans for Paul’s life.

:11 And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.

:11 the glory of that light

One idea of how to define “glory” is “light”.

:12 “Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there,

:13 came to me; and he stood and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that same hour I looked up at him.

:12 a devout man according to the law

The issue of the day for Paul is whether or not he is an observant Jew. Does Paul keep the Law of Moses?

The first person Paul comes into contact with after meeting Jesus is Ananias, who himself is not only a believer in Jesus, but one who keeps the Law of Moses.

We weren’t told this back in Acts 9, but Paul brings this out as further evidence that he is not opposed to the Law of Moses.

:13 I looked up at him

Or, Paul’s eyesight was healed.

Luke’s account in Acts 9 tells us:

(Ac 9:18 NKJV) Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.

:14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth.

:14 the Just One

Peter called Jesus the “Just” after he had healed the lame man at the Gate Beautiful:

(Ac 3:14 NKJV) But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,

The last time this phrase was used to describe Jesus, it was by Stephen the martyr.

(Ac 7:52 NKJV) Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,
I wonder if Paul might have been thinking about what Stephen had said when he stood there watching Stephen be stoned.

:15 For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.

:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

:15 you will be His witness to all men

This is what Paul is doing right now.

God will use people (like Ananias) to speak direction into your life.

This was what Ananias told Paul, but look at what the Lord had told Ananias before meeting Paul:

(Ac 9:15–16 NKJV) —15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Note that God had told Ananias that Paul’s ministry would include the Gentiles.

:16 Arise and be baptized

The practice of baptism wasn’t unique to Christianity.

The Jews practiced something similar called the “mikveh”, a ritual bath.

It was used to cleanse from ritual impurity before coming into the Temple.
It was practiced by Gentiles who were converting to Judaism.
Being baptized was a sign of “conversion”, of “washing”.

:16 calling on the name of the Lord

Paul would write to the Romans:

(Ro 10:8–13 NKJV) —8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Paul (in Rom. 10:13) was simply quoting from the Jewish prophet Joel (Joel 2:32)
This is how salvation happens. You ask God to save you.

(Joe 2:32 NKJV) And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

:17 “Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance

:17 praying in the temple

Paul is going to get another significant piece to the puzzle of his calling from praying in the temple.

Paul was an observant Jew.
He was also a man of prayer.

:18 and saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me.’

:18 get out of Jerusalem quickly

Back in those early days, God wanted Paul to get out of Jerusalem.

This time is different.

:18 they will not receive your testimony concerning Me

The Jews would not be able to hear what Paul was going to say.

:19 So I said, ‘Lord, they know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believe on You.

:20 And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’

:19 they know that in every synagogue

It sounds as if Paul was arguing with the Lord.

To Paul, it would seem like he would be a great witness about Jesus, since he used to be someone who persecuted Christians. He’s wrong.

:20 the blood of Your martyr Stephen

Paul had been there when Stephen was martyred.

Paul had been in agreement with the stoning of Stephen.

Paul had even had the job of guarding the coats of those who were throwing the stones.

I get the idea from this that Paul was impacted by Stephen’s death.

:21 Then He said to me, ‘Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.’ ”

:21 Depart

Even though years earlier Paul had some great reasons to stay and preach in Jerusalem, the Lord knew better and told Paul to get out of town.

Jesus had other things for Paul to do.

:21 to the Gentiles


A woman wife walked into the den & asked “What’s on the TV?” Her husband replied “Dust”.
And that’s how the fight started.....
A woman is standing, looking in the bedroom mirror. She is not happy with what she sees and says to her husband, ‘I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you to pay me a compliment.’ The husband replies, ‘Your eyesight’s pretty near perfect.’
And that’s how the fight started.....
A man and his wife and were sitting at a table at his high school reunion, and he kept staring at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she sat alone at a nearby table. His wife asked, ‘Do you know her?’ ‘Yes,’ he sighed, ‘She’s my old girlfriend. I understand she took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear she hasn’t been sober since.’ ‘Wow!’ says the wife. ‘Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?’
And that’s when the fight started.....

It is quite amazing that Paul has been speaking now for several minutes before actually using the “trigger” word.

The center of the controversy around Paul had to do with the Gentiles.

He was being accused of bringing pagan pig dog heathen Gentiles into the Temple (which he had not done).
And now he says that bad word… and that’s when the fight started…

:22 And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!”

:22 he is not fit to live

The Jewish crowd could not think of anything more disgusting than a good Jewish man trying to work with Gentiles, let alone the idea that God had sent him to do such a thing.

And yet we’ve seen that God had planned all along for Gentiles to know Him:

(Is 42:6 NKJV) “I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness, And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles,

We saw on Sunday God’s promise to Amos:

(Am 9:12 NKJV) That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” Says the Lord who does this thing.


Facing our prejudice

Paul too was part of the ultra-orthodox Pharisee sect. He too had the same prejudice against Gentiles at one time.
Yet for Paul to reach the Gentiles, he didn’t just stand twenty yards away and shout at them. Paul writes to the Corinthians:
(1 Co 9:19–22 NKJV) —19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

There was a sense in which Paul had learned to identify with the people that he was trying to reach.

He never compromised his walk with the Lord (like worshipping Zeus), but he knew how to relate to Gentiles.

Humans tend to be quite filled with prejudice.
Sexual orientation

What if someone said to you, “I have been sent by God to work with the gay community”.


What if they said, “I have been sent by God to work with the illegal immigrant population”.


What if they said, “I have been sent to work with the Democrats”

Could you say, “To the Democrats I became as a Democrat that I might win the Democrat… (take up stones quick!!!)

It’s hard for us to think of some of the types of people we aren’t too fond of, and think of them in the way that God thinks of them.
God loves them and wants them to know Him.
Paul wrote,

(1 Ti 1:15 NKJV) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

How do we treat people who are not on our favorite’s list?
(2 Ti 2:24–26 NKJV) —24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

22:23-30 Paul and the Romans

:23 Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air,

:24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him.

:24 examined under scourging

The Romans don’t know what Paul was saying to the crowd since he was speaking in Hebrew.

examinedanetazo – to investigate, to examine; to examine judicially

scourgingmastix – a whip, scourge

The Romans used a whip called a “cat-o-nine-tails”, or flagellum, strips of leather with pieces of bone or metal imbedded in the ends, the point was to tear away flesh during the whipping. This is what Jesus was scourged with.

Scourging wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Sometimes prisoners died from scourging.

Paul had written to the Corinthians earlier that year:

(2 Co 11:23–27 NKJV) —23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—
He knew all about being scourged.

:25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?”

:25 Is it lawful …

Paul took advantage of his Roman citizenship. He had done this back in Philippi when he and Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown into jail (Acts 16).

:26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.”

:27 Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”

:28 The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”

:28 citizenship

Not everyone in the Roman Empire was a “citizen”.

Keep in mind that the world at this time was under the control of the Roman Empire.

Roman citizenship gave you certain rights
Cicero had said, “To bind a Roman citizen is a crime, to scourge him a scandal, to slay him – death for your family”
For Paul to be bound without a hearing was an offense punishable by jail. To scourge him might have meant death.
At the time of these events, during the reign of Caesar Claudius, Roman citizenship could be purchased, but it wasn’t cheap.
If you falsely claimed to be a Roman citizen when you weren’t, you could be put to death.
Being born in Tarsus wouldn’t have made Paul a citizen. It would have had to have been one of Paul’s ancestors (father or grandfather) who had either bought or been granted citizenship in Rome, and then when Paul was born, he was born into a family of Roman citizens.

:29 Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

:30 The next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.

:30 he wanted to know … why

The commander still isn’t sure why Paul has made the crowd so hostile.

Because the Romans have a tense, strained relationship with the Jews, he doesn’t want to release Paul without knowing what has caused the trouble.

:30 councilsunedrion – the Sanhedrin

:1 hear my defense


How God guides us

Paul gives his “defense”, his apologia as to who he is.
In doing this, we get a glimpse into how God worked in Paul’s life.
God has plans for our life.
(Eph 2:10 NKJV) For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The question we are constantly asking God is, “What is it You want me to do?”

There are some helpful things in this chapter that help us learn more about what God has for us to do.
1. Birth
There are things beyond your control, things you’re simply born with.

(Ac 22:3 NKJV) “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia…

Paul was born a Jew. He was born in Tarsus. He was raised speaking Hebrew.

Paul was also a Roman. He often used his Roman citizenship to his advantage.

We may not always be proud of our heritage, but it’s who we are and it’s part of what God can use.
For most of us, we are Americans. There are some advantages to being an American.

When you go to Russia, you can get a glimpse of the advantage you have being born an American. The Russians still for the most part love to talk to Americans.

Even though many Americans can only speak English, this too is an advantage since English has become the language that most people outside America learn. It’s the language of the world.

Some of us might not have been born into the nicest of families. Some of us don’t like the looks we were born with. But it’s who you are. It’s who God made you to be.

It’s a part of how God can use you.

2. Education (or lack)
Paul was educated by Gamaliel.

You can see in Paul’s writings that he knew the Scriptures. You can see his education in the way he does his ministry. God will use that.

Peter in contrast was uneducated.

(Ac 4:13 NKJV) Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

Peter and John’s lack of education was useful because it made the Jewish leaders aware that the things they were doing were not due to their own bright minds.

But sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that God is against education.

Paul shows us that God can use a person who has an education.

The problem education brings is the pride and self-dependance that it creates in people.

(1 Cor 8:1 NKJV) …Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.

But if a man or woman can grow in godly traits like humility and a servant’s heart, then education is another tool in what God can use in your life.

3. Before Christ
Paul was a persecutor of the church.

(Ac 22:4 NKJV) I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,

Some of us can be quite ashamed of what we were like before we met Jesus. Many people are afraid to talk about what they used to be like. But you will find that at the appropriate times, God can use your past to show people that they too can be saved, that they too can come to know Jesus, that they too can change.
Sometimes we look at areas of our life, our experiences, our history, and see them as terrible disasters or mistakes. But I’m beginning to realize that making mistakes is a very big part of maturity. We don’t grow by avoiding mistakes, we grow by learning from our mistakes.

Sometimes we can become paralyzed in our decision making process because we’re afraid of making another “mistake”. I’m beginning to find that people I deem as “successful” tend to be people who embrace their mistakes rather than hide or avoid them.

4. Meeting Jesus
This is not the first time Paul will tell people about how he met Jesus. Nor will this be the last.
This is a big part of Paul’s “defense”, his “apologetic”.

When we are talking with a person about knowing God, it is important to know the Scriptures. But one of the most powerful tools is to talk about your own encounter with Jesus.

What were you like before you came to trust Jesus? How did you come to trust Jesus? What has your life been like after trusting in Jesus?

Some people have quite dramatic testimonies, like the apostle Paul. Bright lights, hearing voices, an encounter with a supernatural being.

Mike MacIntosh has quite a dramatic testimony of how he was on drugs and thought he had lost half his brain. He found Jesus, got prayed for by the elders, and God healed him.

For Peter it was a bit different – he was just at work one day when this guy walked up to him and said “follow Me”.

For me, I was just an eighth grade kid, raised in a good home, who realized one day he needed Jesus.

5. Godly people
God used one of the believers in Damascus to influence Paul’s life. God brought healing to Paul through Ananias.

(Acts 22:12-16 NKJV) "Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, {13} "came to me; and he stood and said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight.' And at that same hour I looked up at him.

God also used Ananias to give Paul guidance. God worked through Ananias to give Paul a peek at his life’s work.

{14} "Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. {15} 'For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. {16} 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

Some people like to work alone. For one reason or another they would rather not ask other people for advice. We might call them “Lone Ranger Christians”.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto were camping in the desert, they set up their tent, and fell asleep. Some hours later, The Lone Ranger woke his faithful friend. “Tonto, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.” Tonto replies, “Me see millions of stars.” “What does that tell you?” asked the Lone Ranger. Tonto ponders for a minute. “Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Timewise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What it tell you Kemosabe?” The Lone Ranger is silent for a moment, then speaks. “Someone has stolen our tent.”

Hey, even the Lone Ranger had a partner. They helped keep each other on track.

(Pr 11:14 NKJV) Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

It’s a good thing to have people you can go to for advice.

6. Prayer
It was when Paul was in prayer in the temple that God spoke more direction to Paul.
Ask God for guidance.

(Je 33:3 NKJV) ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Expect to get an answer.


Where's Your Umbrella?

One summer, a drought threatened the crop in a small town. On a hot and dry Sunday, the small town pastor told his congregation, “There isn’t anything that will save us except to pray for rain. Go home, pray, believe, and come back next Sunday ready to thank God for sending rain.” The people did as they were told and returned to church the following Sunday. But as soon as the pastor saw them, he was furious. “We can’t worship today. You do not yet believe,” he said. “But,” they protested, “we prayed, and we do believe.” “Believe?” he responded. “Then where are your umbrellas?”

7. Examples of others
It seems to me that Stephen’s example of dying for Christ had an impact on Paul.

We saw more than a few subtle references

I kind of wonder if Paul was kind of having one of those “déjà-vu” feelings as he was being arrested in Jerusalem and now about to face the Sanhedrin like Stephen did.
I think one of the best ways I learn is by watching others. I love going to Pastors’ conferences and hearing other guys talk about how they handled their difficult times.
I also love to read biographies of the great men and women of God through history. I learn from their examples.
I also find that at times I’m the example. There just might be others out there watching you. They may be observing how you handle your tragedy.